The Malden City Council unanimously approved to reauthorize nearly $500,000 of a $1 million bond issued in 2010 to make security upgrades and capital improvements at Malden Public Schools.
"The specific floor plan for installment will differ in each school and is based on the input of the entire team consisting of Police and Fire departments, schools, Building Department, Information Technology and Emergency Management," Mayor Gary Christenson said. "...As part of the recent renovation to Malden High School, 12 additional surveillance cameras were added to the school for a total of 76 operating cameras. Similar to the new ones we are purchasing for the Early Learning Center and the five K-8 schools, they will be directly tied into the Police Department."
Among the safety equipment upgrades planned for all schools within the district are:
- Surveillance cameras and keyless entry ($450,851)
- Building alarms and panic buttons in the principals' offices ($28,033)
- Door jams for teachers to lock the doors from inside the classroom to prevent an intruder from entering ($6,187)
- Unbreakable wall file letter holders for the mounting of emergency plans in every classroom ($7,578)
The security measures, which were reviewed by the Finance Committee and approved in late December by the City Council, were first pitched by Christenson in a Nov. 26 letter to the City Council and President Neal Anderson. He also presented the plan to the council during one of their sessions at City Hall.
"Providing a safe and secure environment in our schools has always been a top priority. However, we cannot ignore the staggering increase of school shootings across the country," Christenson said in the letter. "In the last five years alone there have been more shootings than all other years combined. We must invest in the improvement and upgrade of our security systems and crisis preparedness measures.
"Last December’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut further demonstrates the heightened need for us to remain proactive when it comes to school safety and security."
The installation of the security equipment is one part of an overall safety plan, according to Christenson.
"As part of the effort, the Emergency Management team has also worked on revamping policies and protocols and implementing comprehensive emergency preparedness plans and procedures," Christenson wrote in the letter. "Additionally...we will now have a police officer in the high school and one assigned to the K-8 schools. We believe that with the increase in school crisis incidents, it is imperative that we provide every measure possible so that our staff and students are safe and prepared to respond to any type of emergency situation."
The city's Municipal Building Committee, comprised of the mayor, two City Councillors, Director of Public Facilities and the Superintendent of Schools, will oversee the introduction of the security improvements and install the equipment "as soon as possible," according to Christenson.