As students arrived yesterday at St. Paul, Mn., public schools, some passed through new entrances that require card access once school is underway. There are cameras, new motion detectors, and an upgraded alarm system, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Ten police officers and 40 contracted guards patrol the district's schools. Visitors to Anoka-Hennepin elementary schools will need to swipe a driver's license to gain entry. A similar scanning system at Stillwater middle schools will tap into a national sex-offender base before printing out a visitor's pass. While three Minneapolis-area districts brace for referendums to raise millions of dollars for school security, others debate installing coatings to make glass more shatterproof, renovating school entrances, and whether they should hire more police liaison officers or private security.
In the first new school year since the Newtown, Ct., school shootings, security concerns are testing school officials like never before. In Minnesota, officials wonder how to pay for improved and added security and grapple with a new equation that adds up differently from district to district: How much security is too much? “There's a fine line between building a fortress and maintaining a safe and caring learning center,” said Susan Brott of the Edina public schools. “Schools have to be inviting,” said Jason Matlock, director of emergency management and safety for Minneapolis schools, which add cameras, have entryways that require ID cards, and use 16 police liaison officers and 100 volunteers to patrol school halls. “If you harden a building too much, what kind of message is that sending?”