Cabot Public Schools undergo security changes

By Emily Van Zandt Originally Published April 14, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 12, 2013 at 11:42 a.m.
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Bryan Langston of Gould Door and Hardware installs a new handle to a classroom door in Cabot. The school district recently underwent a security change, as new door handles were installed to allow staff to lock the doors from inside the classroom using a key.

— Following meetings between district administration and local law enforcement, the Cabot Public Schools underwent a small change last week that administrators hope will have a big impact on student safety.

Classroom doors on all 12 campuses were fitted with new handles that allow staff to lock the doors from inside the classroom using a key. Prior to the change, staff members had to lock the doors from the outside, forcing them to step outside the rooms.

The cost of replacing 457 locks came to $151,558.80, said Cabot Superintendent Tony Thurman. Gould Door & Hardware Co. Inc. of Jonesboro made the replacements.

In the weeks following the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Thurman said several staff members expressed concerns about classrooms having an outside-locking system. Those concerns were echoed by local law enforcement.

“This major expenditure was not in the budget, and we needed to defer other projects to make it happen, but it was certainly a priority to complete this project in a timely manner,” Thurman said.

A review of the district’s emergency procedures is done annually, but Thurman said this particular review also was prompted by the Newtown, Conn., event.

“I can’t imagine any district that didn’t receive calls after the tragedy in Newtown,” Thurman said. “Overall, public schools are safe places for children across the United States, but every parent was concerned after Newtown. We sent a letter to all parents reinforcing our focus on safety and security.”

Thurman said that the district plans to make several more security changes in upcoming months and years, though nothing has been finalized.

“Many of our schools were constructed in a time much different than the world we live in today, and we are considering minor design changes that would improve these sites,” Thurman said.

In addition to new locks, he said Cabot schools have participated in more lockdown and emergency drills.

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or evanzandt@arkansasonline.com.

Staff Writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or emily@syncweekly.com.

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