Spokane schools highlight new district-wide safety measures

SPOKANE, Wash. - District 81 security

It's one of the last weekends of summer for students and Spokane Public Schools is busy ramping up security for the upcoming school year.

From special classroom locks to security cameras - the school district is making big changes to keep kids safe.

When Jefferson Elementary School opens up its doors, parents will notice little things like translucent glass on the classrooms that lets lights in but doesn't let anyone see inside. It's safety changes like that which are happening all across the district.

"Our students safety is at the forefront of our work," Ericka Hallock with District 81 said during a tour of Jefferson Elementary Friday, as she highlighted new safety features.

"All of the classrooms have blinds on all of the windows so … it prevents people from seeing in," she explained during the tour. Those blinds are being installed in all schools across the district.

Hallock said the district has been working on a safety audit for awhile, even before the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school last December.

Another important safety feature is that all employees must wear key cards.

"So essentially you take your name badge and it will automatically let you in," Hallock explained. "From a safety standpoint, if there were to be an incident at a school site, it would help law enforcement signal who is supposed to be there."

If there is a bad guy on campus, teachers will soon be able to lock their doors from inside the classroom.

"Teachers have the ability to lock internally so if there is an incident and they are notified there is, for example, an intruder on campus the teachers can lock the door with the key," Hallock said.

District-wide, 1250 security cameras have been installed. At Jefferson Elementary there are 30 of them.

Also at Jefferson, and other newly renovated schools in the district, all of the school's outside doors can be locked with a push of a button.

"Through our facility and safety department we would have the ability offsite to be able to lock all of the doors," Hallock said.

This is all in addition to the district's 14 school resource officers, who have been approved to begin firearms training and will carry semi-automatic handguns with them on campus as early as January.

The district hopes these key changes, will keep kids out of harm's way.