Easton Area schools getting $1.3 million security upgrade
A 24-hour surveillance system, electronic key cards and vestibules sometimes called “man traps” are among the upgrades included in a $1.3 million security project approved Tuesday by the Easton Area School Board.
District business manager Mike Simonetta said the project is set to begin at the end of the school year, with some work likely to start sooner, after school hours.
But the ones to be installed at all other schools are what Simonetta said are called man traps: Once visitors enter the vestibule, they can’t go any further until cleared by school officials and allowed to enter through a second door with a remotely activated electronic locking system.
The project brought little discussion from board members except Richard Fehnel, who said he had to vote “no” because he did not receive a copy of the contract.
“I just have a habit of reading a contract before approving it,” he said.
Board member William Rider noted the contract still needs a final review by the board, but that should not be an obstacle.
“We should move forward with this,” he said. “We’ve been discussing it for several months and security is an important issue.”
The contractors will be Penn Builders of Quakertown, which will construct the vestibules at a cost of $1.035 million, and Communication Systems Inc. of Allentown, which will install the electronic security systems at $341,859.
Money for the project will come from the district’s capital projects reserve account, which Simonetta said contains about $5 million.
The only school that board President Frank Pintabone said may require more attention is Cheston Elementary, because the entrance is on one side while the office is at the other end of the building.
Simonetta said after the board meeting that a side entrance is being used more as a main entrance, but that still is not ideal. It might lead to reconfiguring the office to bring a more logical and secure entryway.
In addition to the vestibules that will force visitors to check in at the office, Simonetta said all the schools will be tied into a central surveillance system with cameras operating and recording 24 hours a day, coupled with the ability to remotely view the surveillance video.
“The biggest difference with this system is that it will be recording into a DVR, and that the entire system will be tied into one system instead of individually,” Simonetta said.
Discussion of the security upgrades came after the mass shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“Nobody is saying this will protect us from everything, but it will be as secure as we can make it,” Simonetta said.
Charles Malinchak is a freelance writer.