Over the last year, a lot of action has happened to make K-12 schools safer for students in Michigan. While still in office, Gov. Snyder implemented legislation for a School Safety Task Force. The Task Force has been meeting to oversee School Districts and their Safety Plans for each of their buildings. Schools are required to have their plans in place by January 2020. Also, as part of the Legislation, starting in 2020, new construction and renovation plans for schools have to be shared and consulted with their local law enforcement agency for their evaluation from a safety standpoint.
In August 2019, the Michigan State Police (MSP) published their Expanded School Safety Summary List, which includes a breakdown of the legislation and their recommendations to improve the safety of school buildings. Also, in March 2019, the MSP issued the largest number of safety grants to applying School Districts for safety improvements. Since 2015 (as part of the same program), the MSP has distributed $56M to 556 recipient schools. The majority of schools have used their grants to improve their secure entrance, install security cameras, apply shatterproof film on windows, and provide more training. In addition to these improvements, law enforcement emphasizes that schools install solid classroom doors with commercial grade locks that can be secured from inside the classroom, the ability to communicate outside a locked classroom, wayfinding or labeled areas of the building to quickly narrow down an area within the building for police, and vehicle barriers at entrances. We would add that an automated system can help staff monitor their camera feeds and control access within the building from an off site laptop. Schools can benefit from peace of mind when being able to monitor or being notified of movement within a building when there shouldn’t be any.
Wolgast Corporation will continue to manage the construction of schools with safety of students and staff in mind while working along with team Architects to follow with Michigan State Police and the Safety Task Force consultations and recommendations.