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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Ahead of the 2022-2023 school year, the Shawnee Mission School District is adding an extra layer of security to all elementary and middle school buildings.

On Monday, the school board unanimously approved a plan to allocate $250,000 for the installation of hard wired, button-controlled door locks at the main entrances of each school building. Currently door locks are controlled by wireless remotes, but the remotes do not control all lock sets for main entrance doors.

Approximately six push buttons will be installed in each of the district’s 44 schools, with Hocker Grove Middle School being the only school excluded from the project. 

“Hocker Grove is the one middle school that when you go to the outside door and you are buzzed into, you are actually currently in the office,” Deputy Superintendent Dr. Joe Gilhaus said. “There is no holding area at Hocker Grove. However, starting in September they will be part of a bond process in updating their facilities.” 

Gilhaus said a portion of the bond will be dedicated to upgrading the office to include a holding area. 

Starting this year, each classroom in the district will display a list of emergency procedures. The state requires the district to participate in a set number of emergency scenario drills each year. In addition to traditional fire or tornado drills, students in SMSD will participate in lockdown, evacuation and code red drills. 

Gilhaus said families will be notified ahead of time when their children will participate in the three crisis drills. 

“To be honest with you, most of kids, especially the younger ones, if you do a code red they go home and tell their families anyways, which is great. The bottom line is there is nothing to hide, and it’s full transparency,” Gilhaus said.

The district anticipates all new security locks will be installed by Aug. 29.

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