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The 2014-2015 school year marked a first for Northside Independent School District, located in San Antonio, Texas, as the students at its newest elementary, Bonnie Ellison Elementary, entered the building through a bullet-resistant glass security lobby. This project, completed by Joeris Construction in partnership with Total Security Solutions, is part of a nearly $8.28 million dollar bond dedicated to improving security measures in nearly thirty schools over the next two years, many of which will require retrofitting.
“Invisible” Bullet-Resistant Barrier Design
Bonnie Ellison Elementary was selected as the first school to receive the bullet-resistant glass security lobby because it was more easily integrated into the new construction process. The school’s exterior doors remain locked at all times and visitors are funneled through one front entrance. Only after a brief security check, including showing an I.D., are individuals allowed access to the building. Carin Aderman, principal at Bonnie Ellison Elementary, cited the security improvements as measures to better ensure the safety of students while at school.
The new lobby, which includes a bullet-resistant Aluminum Frame vestibule, Level 3 Baffle Interior Transaction Window and counter-recessed Cash Tray, was designed to balance security with a welcoming atmosphere. As stated by Pascual Gonzales, a spokesperson for the Northside ISD, schools are not jails. The administration wants people to feel welcome at the school, but only those who have a legitimate reason to be there. In keeping with this goal, Total Security Solutions project manager Eric Malzahn notes, “The baffle design window we used on this project is popular for its clean lines and limited obstructions with security cameras as well as its great sound performance.”
Three-Phase School Security Initiative
According to the Northside Independent School District, the implementation of the bullet resistant barrier at Bonnie Ellison Elementary is the first step during Phase I of a three-phase initiative. As part of this effort, eight additional schools have been identified for retrofit with a bullet-resistant glass security lobby. These eight schools were chosen because they pose the biggest challenge to the architects and engineers to design an outer lobby that funnels students, staff and visitors through one entrance. In some cases, the schools were built as multiple buildings with more than one entrance, causing complicated security challenges.
If this pilot initiative for security improvements is successful, additional funds for more than 30 schools will be sought as part of a secondary bond. Feedback from parents in the community is positive, with many stating that they have greater peace of mind due to the safety measures implemented at Bonnie Ellison Elementary.
- Download our 5-Point School Security Checklist for key steps to retrofitting your school entryway with a bullet-resistant security barrier
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Images courtesy of KSAT.