DES MOINES, Iowa - Students return to class next week and when students at Merrill Middle School arrive they will notice new improvements.
According to the school’s principal, “This I think is our biggest enhancement we`re making here,” says Alex Hanna.
The school is making improvements to its main entrance by enclosing the space, requiring visitors to be buzzed in by the main office. The district also replaced standard door handles with “intruder locks,” locks which allow the teacher to lock the door from the inside. Hanna also mentioned they’ve added additional security cameras to the interior and exterior of the building.
“This gives a sense of hey I don’t have to worry about the outside world per say and anything unsafe," says Hanna.
The improvements and an expansion project to the school cost the district $1.7 million. The security improvements come after an angry parent entered the school and made a gun threat last October, forcing the school on lock down.
Des Moines School District spokesperson Phil Roeder says, “For us being able to control who enters the school building makes a world of difference.”
District – wide, Roeder says there are more than a thousand security cameras in place and schools practice lock down routines monthly.
“Doing safety drills at all of our schools is one of the most important things we can do to know how our students react how our teachers react to a threat,” says Roeder.
Four other schools in the district: Lincoln RAILS Academy along with Howe, Garton and Willard Elementary schools are better securing their entrances.
Des Moines students return to school on August 20th.