School board approves security upgrades

Most of the funding to come through state grant

The Shawano School District has received more than $85,000 in school safety grant funding from the state, but it’s not waiting for the check to arrive in the mail.

The Shawano School Board gave its blessing Monday night to three projects worth more than $110,000 intended to enhance security at the district’s four schools. All of the funding will come out of the district’s fund balance, but most of it will be replenished once the state issues the grant money.

“This grant money will cover some of these projects we need to do, but we don’t have it now,” Superintendent Gary Cumberland said. “It’s going to come, but we want to get these things done now.”

The first project will place wireless sensors on every exterior door and provide software that will immediately alert officials when a door is open during times when school is in session. The project is expected to cost $49,336.

Jeff Easter, the district’s building and maintenance director, told the board that he recommended TECC Security, based in Neenah, get the project. The district currently works with Faith Technologies, which has several locations in northeast Wisconsin, but that company offered hard-wired sensors that would have cost the district $128,368.

“There are collector components (through the wireless system) throughout the buildings in different locations as needed that will actually wirelessly talk to these sensors,” Easter said. “So that when the door gets opened, you get the signal, but it’s through Wi-Fi.”

The monitoring system will also alert the district whenever the sensor batteries are getting low. Easter said the district will have to replace the batteries every two years.

In order to avoid having two companies handling the district’s system monitoring, TECC will also be taking over other monitoring systems like fire alarms, Easter said.

“The software they use is much more user-friendly, and it’s going to solve some problems we have,” he said.

The second project addresses interior security at Shawano Community High School. The district plans to put card readers on a number of interior doors at a cost of $12,000, also through TECC. This project will not receive any grant funding, according to Easter.

He explained that, although the school requires visitors to buzz in at the front office during the day, there are a number of activities in the evening — Community Education classes, sporting events, theatrical performances, to name a few — where security is not as tight.

“The concern being that people could go down the halls unsupervised, getting into the lockers and putting things into the lockers,” Easter said. “We don’t want that.”

School board member Derek Johnson, who sits on the district’s building and grounds committee, said he was concerned about visitors having unfettered access to the high school, too.

“Lots of different people have access to this building at night, on the weekends,” Johnson said. “We’d like to control access to other parts of the building as much as we can. You can have a pool event with several people from out of town, and they have the run of the entire building.”

The last project will replace the district’s current radios with newer ones at a cost of $49,183, with about 60 percent of the costs being covered by the state grant. Nielson Communications, based in Green Bay, had the low bid to provide more than 80 radios to the district.

Easter said the radios would be provided to administrators, special education teachers and other key officials. The new radios have the ability to reach the other schools in the district and the Shawano Police Department in the event of an emergency.

A test of one of the radios resulted in a clear signal as far as Hope Community Church, located on the east end of Shawano.

“We found we could even get down into the boiler room in the middle school and get a good signal,” Easter said. “We tried everywhere to find a dead spot, but we found we have good coverage.”