New design to keep kids safe in school

An iPad shows security cameras at Northview High School in Grand Rapids. (Jan. 29, 2014)
An iPad shows security cameras at Northview High School in Grand Rapids. (Jan. 29, 2014)

Shootings at schools around the nation have officials always looking for ways to improve their security.

In August 2013, “24 Hour News 8 Daybreak” reported how some West Michigan schools are trying to upgrade their security.

This week, we went to Northview High School in Grand Rapids where officials are getting a $36 million overhaul — a bond approved by voters. That money is funding renovations and design changes that could be crucial in a crisis.

We toured the high school with Northview Public Schools Superintendent Michael Paskewicz and Matt Slagle, an architect with TowerPinkster.

While walking through the building, you will see fewer walls and more glass — an open-space design for the 60 teachers to see more, and those on the outside to know what is going on inside.

“We can’t guarantee certainty that nothing would ever happen, but we’ve reduced and minimized the possibility of something serious happening,” said Paskewicz.

They are seemingly subtle changes with serious situations in mind.

Shorter lockers, for security reasons, are seen in Northview High School in Grand Rapids. (Jan. 29, 2014)

Shorter lockers, for security reasons, are seen in Northview High School in Grand Rapids. (Jan. 29, 2014)

There are also new, large windows in classrooms, a glass office for teachers, and shorter lockers.

“You can see to the other end of this building without any kids being able to hide behind a locker,” Paskewicz said of the difference in height.

Slagle is behind this safe school design at the school.

He is not just an architect but also a parent in the district, and keeping kids’ safety is his top priority.

“You can utilize teachers and staff members, those adult eyes on this space and into the entries. That visual control becomes really important,” he s

aid.

And no matter where you are, school officials can find you on one of their high-tech cameras via an iPad.

The school will soon have 65 cameras, all giving 360-degree views, in and around the building.

“It comforts me to know that looking at an iPad they can actually see what’s going within the building,” said Slagle.

There are now more eyes everywhere to know what’s happening at all times.

By the end of the year, the superintendent hopes the renovated building will be fun and functional, and safer than ever.

Construction should be done by December.

Grandville Public Schools is undergoing similar changes to upgraded security due to a multi-million dollar bond that voters recently passed.

Wyoming Public Schools twice asked for money from voters last year, and got turned down both times. Officials wanted to make changes like those done at Northview High School. Wyoming officials said they do not plan to ask voters again.

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