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School Construction: Security is Built In

New high school, middle school designed for better safety

Safety and security has changed how schools are designed and built. And the new Westlake High School and Lee Burneson Middle School are no exception.

Dave Puffer, director of construction projects for Westlake City Schools, said details large and small are designed to keep students and staff safe.

It starts at the entrances.

"We limited the entrances," Puffer said. Burneson has a front entrance, where buses will drop off and pick up students, and a rear entrance for parents to do the same.

Once classes start, the front entrances at each school will be the only ones open. Each front entrance comes into a vestibule, and, after classes start, the only way to get in past that will be to be buzzed in by the front office.

Most other doors are designed to be exit only, Puffer said, with no exterior hardware. And, to prevent the doors from being propped open, they're hooked up to sensors that will notify the front office if they're open longer than it takes for someone to go out.

Security cameras are going to be throughout the school, Puffer said, and can be moved or reconfigured for their best use. They will be monitored in the main office.

"We can't give out every detail," Puffer said. "But we want the community to know that we are taking every precaution."

Resource officers, uniformed Westlake Police officers, will be at each school.

The schools' security systems, including security camera feeds, will be accessible to Westlake Police officers in their car laptops.

Even after the schools are opened, security policies and procedures will be regularly evaluated by the safety committee, just like they are at all Westlake schools now, Puffer said.

"One thing I'm very proud of," Puffer said. "Our security plan isn't something we dust off once a year and then put back on a shelf. We're always working to make our schools as safe as we can."

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