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School board approves plans for heightened security

The West Fargo School Board, during Monday's meeting, unanimously approved a contract with MBN Engineering of Fargo for development of plans and specifications for school security improvements to be made throughout the district this summer.

The contract calls for MBN Engineering to design upgrades for the first phase of the security improvement before bids will be awarded, along with preparing plans and bid documents. Their services will cost the district $8,000.

"We intend to bring all of our schools to a minimum standard where we would control access to the building with door security at the main entrance and provide some form of video surveillance at those entrances," business manager Mark Lemer said. "Then over time - in future phases - increase the number of doors monitored."

The implementation of this security system will not only upgrade the district's current system, but will also provide a sense of parity throughout the district's buildings.

"In some of our buildings, the office in not connected to the main door," Lemer said, "so the idea is to secure that door and put in a call system that would require visitors to announce themselves and request access to the building."

Panic devices would also be installed to notify emergency response of their needed assistance.

"For our schools within the city, (the West Fargo police department) will be that connection," superintendent David Flowers said. "We will establish the same plan with the county and/or the Fargo police department for the others, but the panic devices will go directly to the authorities."

Staff would be able to enter using a card reader at the main entrance.

Phase I should be complete over the summer, but may carry into the fall.

Phase II, when put in place, will provide a door position switch at every exterior door and additional surveillance cameras throughout the building.

The board also approved staffing requests for over 25 new employees beginning with the new school year. These staff members - working both full- and part-time - will primarily work at Liberty Middle School and Sheyenne High School, and include custodians, food service workers and special education paraprofessionals, among others.

"This is a pretty basic support staff request," human resources director Robin Hill said. "It focuses mostly on getting Liberty staffed and the expansion of Sheyenne, along with some allowance for growing enrollment. It is what we need to get running."

In total, this additional staffing should cost the district roughly $768,500, based on starting pay of each schedule and retirement costs.