Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

May 1, 2013

Unit 50 looking to make high school more secure

Bill Grimes Daily News
Effingham Daily News

---- — TEUTOPOLIS — In an era where schools throughout the United States have beefed up security in the wake of a number of high-profile school shootings, Teutopolis High School has remained relatively open.

That has to change, says Bill Fritcher.

Fritcher, Unit 50 superintendent, told the Board of Education at Tuesday's special meeting he would like to use state maintenance funding to make the high school more secure, even though he said there have been no safety concerns at the school.

"It's time we get this done," Fritcher said. "It will take some infrastructure work, and it will create a level of inconvenience, but I don't think we can accept that as a reason not to do this."

Fritcher said improvements would include fencing, new doors, changed locks and a policy that would limit access to the school except through the main entrance at the northwest corner of the building.

The project would be funded by a $50,000 maintenance grant from the state that would require the school district to kick in another $50,000. Fritcher said he would consult with the district architect to get a rough estimate of the project cost.

Fritcher said he must submit the funding request by the end of May. He doesn't anticipate any problem getting the funds.

"I believe if it relates to school safety, it will happen," he said.

Fritcher said he would have more information on the project at the board's regular meeting later this month.

Fritcher said after the meeting that the idea of restricting access to the high school has been the result of a gradual thought process, rather than a specific event.

"There was no tipping point," he said. "It's just that now's the time. We've secured our other buildings, but we knew the high school would be the toughest because of its age and physical layout."

Board members appear to be on board with the proposal.

"I don't think any of us want to negate the safety of our kids," said board member Carl Repking.

Fritcher told the board he would like to have the project completed by the beginning of the school year in August, if funds are available.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.