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Monroe to up security
MONROE - Whether or not the Monroe school district is awarded a school safety grant down the road, district officials are planning to beef up the security at schools throughout Monroe before the first day of school next fall.

Gov. Scott Walker signed a school safety bill into law March 26 that will make $100 million available in competitive grants to public and private school districts across the state. It's still unknown how the state will determine how much can be awarded to each school with the grants. Monroe District Administrator Rick Waski said if grant funding is made available for each school in the state based on an amount per student, Monroe could receive $30,000 to $35,000.

"It won't necessarily work that way," Waski said.

During a school board meeting Monday, Waski said the district is looking to implement three safety measures before next school year: a two-way audio system that would require visitors to be buzzed into each school, an internal lock trigger system that would allow teachers to lock classroom doors from the inside and an alarm to deter students from opening doors during the day for friends or visitors.

"I would say at first blush we would want to go with the two-way audio system and the internal locks and see where that takes us," Waski said. "Any time you are dealing with any security system, there is an opportunity for it to fail. You have to decide if it's worth the investment for the extra security. We are going to move forward with this and do what we feel we need to do. We will do it as it is practical."

Rich Zentner, the district's director of building and grounds, said the estimated cost of a two-way audio system is $5,000 per school for the district's five schools, totaling an estimated $25,000.

Waski said the district can move forward and look to use the $130,000 the district has left in school maintenance referendum money to help pay for the safety upgrades. District officials also may use some funding from the long-term maintenance budget in conjunction with any school safety grant money they receive down the line.

Zentner said the total cost of getting inside doorknob locks on each classroom door would be about $100,000 and district leaders don't have an estimate on installing alarms on many of the school doors.

"The reality is we have a lot of doors," Waski said of each school building. "That would be a pretty extensive project."

Monroe Business Administrator Ron Olson said the district should push forward with school safety plans by getting estimates for the projects so they could possibly be completed this summer.

"I don't think we want to wait to hear from the state on what they are going to do," Olson said of the funding amount for individual districts for the grant.

There has not been a deadline set yet for applying for the school safety grants, Waski said, noting that "once they set a deadline we will beat it."