School project public hearing set for May 14

Staff Writer Kate Wehlann

For those who missed the last hearing or those with more thoughts on the proposed upgrades to Salem Middle School, they will have the chance to be heard once again at the next Salem Community Schools board meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 14, in the Bradie Shrum safe room.

Following much discussion and public input, the board went from approving the pursuit of $13.6 million in projects to all three buildings and grounds, to $12.6 million to $4.3 million. The board is now focusing only on projects at Salem Middle School, renovating the middle school pool, which is in a state of increasing need for repair following more than 40 years of service, and upgraded security. The school was offered the chance to be part of a pilot program from Nettalon, the company that devised the security system at Southwestern High School in Shelbyville, considered the “safest school in America.”

Superintendent Lynn Reed said at the last meeting that, if the school possessed no elements of the system already, the upgrade would cost $600,000. However, the school already has cameras that connect to dispatchers at the Washington County Sheriff’s Department and a number of other features needed. At the time of the last meeting, the school had yet to undergo a site survey to get a better cost estimate. Nettalon will not charge for the survey.
This security system includes wearable fobs for teachers. When the fob button is pressed, bullet-proof doors classroom doors lock and teachers throughout the building are notified, along with law enforcement. Security cameras connected to local law enforcement dispatchers show where a shooter is in the building and, after ensuring that innocent students aren’t in the hallways, the sheriff’s department will release a heavy water mist to force the shooter out of the building and into the waiting arms of police officers.

The water mist does not leave a residue and is entirely visual, so it’s safe for students to walk through, or even hide in, should they be stuck outside a locked classroom during a crisis. Additionally, the doors would also be off-set so if a shooter were to look in a window, all they would see is an empty classroom.

Because of the construction of the middle school library, which has no doors and is largely open to a possible shooter, $175,000 of the money assigned for security upgrades will go to making that room securable.

When it comes to the pool, Reed said at the last meeting, plans have been scraped down to the bare bones.

A proposed plan to include deckside seating has been dropped in favor of a foldable glass wall in front of the current seating to allow spectators to hear what’s going on in the pool during meets and for swimmers to hear their fans cheer for them. Proposed construction for another pump room has been dropped in favor of shifting the pumps and electrical room to other spaces already in existence.

Architect John Hawkins said construction on the pool could take a year and a half to complete.


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