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Colchester schools tighten security - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Colchester schools tighten security

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COLCHESTER, Vt. -

The Colchester school district is starting the school year differently, with a focus on heightened security.

"For the most part our schools are open, so we did an assessment," said Larry Waters, the superintendent of schools in Colchester.

Waters says $250,000 will be funneled into beefing up security at the town's five school buildings.

"In any of our schools you have access to the front door at any time," Waters said.

Soon, instead of open doors, all of them will be locked. For Colchester High School, that means locking down 28 entrances. Visitors will be greeted with cameras and a two-way intercom system.

"Colchester police use a term universal denial. That means give us a reason why you need to enter our schools," Waters said.

The district historically prided itself on being open, but knew it was time for change after the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

"We know there's no absolute way of ensuring intruders will not access our school. The hope is at least if someone wants to enter our school that we delay that process," Waters explained.

Keyless card reader systems at different access points will open doors for staff and teachers with just one swipe. Different levels of access will be granted to different employees.

"There are cameras on all corners of the school and in the back of the school," Waters said.

To keep a watchful eye, the high school had increased its number of security cameras from 25 to 43, both inside and outside the building. Elementary and middle schools will also see more surveillance. Waters knows you can't always keep potential dangers out, but says time is of the essence.

"Seconds are minutes and minutes can be lives," Waters said. "Schools are a great place to be, but they're not secure and we have vulnerable lives and children here."

The school district is hoping to have all the changes in place by Oct. 1.

Colchester schools have two officers from the local police department on campus during school hours. That will continue.

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