Arlington school security improvements include call boxes

Installed at six schools, they’re intended to prevent unauthorized visitors from gaining access.

ARLINGTON — New call boxes at schools here are meant to increase security by preventing the entrance of unauthorized visitors.

The visitor entry systems have been installed at six schools over the past two weeks, mostly during spring break, according to district spokesman Gary Sabol.

“Future installations will follow at other schools after other building and site modifications have been completed,” Sabol wrote in an email. “These call boxes are interim steps until other safety and security modifications can be made, but they will be a part of the completed security systems.”

Putting in the boxes costs about $6,000 per school, paid for from the district’s capital projects fund.

When a visitor arrives at the school’s entrance, they press a button on the box to be connected to staff in the main office, who can remotely unlock the front door.

All other exterior doors remain locked during the school day, Superintendent Chrys Sweeting said in a news release.

The call boxes so far have not seemed to cause much delay for parents or others who visit the schools, according to the district. Sedro-Woolley schools, in Skagit County, have a similar system in place, Sabol said. He does not know of others in Snohomish County.

School safety upgrades, including new visitor entry systems, were part of a $107.5 million bond proposal that failed to win voter approval in February. The largest piece of the bond money would have been for a new Post Middle School. The layout of that campus poses a security problem, school officials say.

The district says it encourages parents and volunteers to visit during school hours, but requires all visitors to sign in at the front office and wear a badge. They also should sign out and return the badge when they leave. A guide on the Arlington schools website notes that visitors, volunteers or chaperones also might be asked to provide identification.

If someone attempts to open an outside door without permission during school hours, teachers and other employees are trained to call the front office and possibly 911.

For more information on Arlington school security and visitor requirements, go to www.asd.wednet.edu and click on “Safety and Security.”

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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