Grant Will Pay To Upgrade Door Locks At Chatham Elementary, Monomoy Middle Schools

By: Tim Wood

Chatham Elementary School. A state grant will pay for new magnetic key card locks on the door which officials say will increase school security. FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM – Monomoy Regional Middle School and Chatham Elementary School will receive security upgrades thanks to a state public safety and education grant.

The $60,000 grant will pay for magnetic key card lock, replacing existing keypad locks as well as convention locks with keys, according to Superintendent of Schools Scott Carpenter.

Key card locks provide an “increased level of security,” he said. Although there has been no security problems to date, there have been instances where the keypad combination has been learned by students or others, requiring that the keypad be reprogrammed. With keypads, he added, there is always a risk that someone might be able to learn the code by watching it being punched in by a staff member.

With the magnetic key cards, if a card is lost or a person who has one is no longer on staff, the card can be easily deactivated, Carpenter said. Conventional keys can also be used on most doors, he added, but the new system will eliminate the need to give out keys to staff members.

“It's a good thing for the school district and the safety of our students,” Carpenter said. “And it doesn't cost our taxpayers a thing.”

School safety grants to 140 districts were announced by the Baker-Polito administration last week. The $7.2 million in total funding will help schools upgrade and install security infrastructure, including exterior door locks, surveillance video cameras, school site alarms, communication systems and active shooter detection systems, according to a press release.

The grants were awarded by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security in conjunction with the Executive Office of Education, according to the governor's office.

Harwich Elementary School and the Monomoy Regional Middle School already have magnetic key card locks, Carpenter said. The new key card locks won't be placed on all doors at Chatham Elementary and the middle school, but will be placed on exterior doors that currently have the keypad locks. The grant covers the cost of the locks, installation and cards.

District Business Manager Kathleen Isernio said she went over school security with Facilities Director Rick and Technology Birchfield and determined that upgrading the exterior door locks at the two schools was a priority. Installation should begin in early November and be completed by the end of the month, she said.

Isernio said the grant will also pay for exterior cameras in the bus areas of the middle and high schools.

The funds were included in the 2018 supplemental budget. Baker and other officials from his administration met in August 2018 with school officials and police chiefs from across the state to discuss steps to keep students safe.

In a statement, Governor Charlie Baker said the grants will provide much-needed safety resources for students and teachers across the state. “We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with school officials to understand how we can better protect our schools, and we are pleased to have worked with the Legislature to award this round of grants. We are hopeful that we can continue this discussion as we consider this year's budget to build on these efforts in more communities.