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School security a priority for Keokuk school infrastructure plans

KEOKUK – School officials in Keokuk said they’re working to keep kids safe as they start planning for a district-wide infrastructure overhaul.

“We really want to provide the best learning environment but also a safe learning environment,” superintendent Christine Barnes said.

The architects touring Keokuk’s schools Tuesday said there’s a number of ways to do that.

“It’s really important you have adequate coverage and the perimeter of the building is properly secured,” Bluestone Engineering President Tom Foldes said.

Foldes said he focuses on the more technical aspects.

“Things I’m looking at are card reader locations, door monitoring, to make sure that if a door is jammed open that there’s a way of identifying that door, camera coverage to make sure there’s adequate coverage inside of the building and out,” he said.

Josh Ridgely said the building’s layout is equally important.

“When visitors come into the building, you want to be able to control their access into the building,” he said.

Ridgely said it’s something older schools tend to struggle with.

“All exterior doors are locked, and then there’s one single point of entry for pretty much all visitors that come into the school facility and they check in with somebody,” he said.

Superintendent Christine Barnes said Tuesday’s tour of Hawthorne, Torrance, George Washington is only the start.

“They’ll also be looking at the middle school and the high school as well as the new central office location,” she said.

As the district looks for ways to improve, Barnes said it’s important community members make their voices heard too.

“I think that’s a very important part of the process, really helps us to understand from a variety of different perspectives of views of what’s working well and what’s not,” she said.

Barnes said money won’t be an issue as voters approved a levy increase earlier this year that will bring the district nearly $700,000 each year for the next ten years.

Blake Sammann

Blake Sammann is a reporter and weekend anchor at WGEM News.

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