Older schools in Mishawaka will get a facelift this summer to improve security, reports Vicky Jacobsen for the South Bend Tribune:
Walt Disney Elementary school in Mishawaka was once a true “open concept” school. It originally had almost no interior walls, a design thought to encourage collaboration between educators and students.
But like many of these 1970s-era schools, teachers instead found the atmosphere noisy and distracting, and most of the classrooms have since been cordoned off with dividers and curtains.
But events like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut last December also brought another concern about open-concept schools to the forefront: If an intruder did gain access to the school, there would be no way to stop him or her from reaching students.
So this summer, the Penn-Harris-Madison school district decided the time was ripe for major renovations. Each of the nine elementary schools that lacked interior doors will be getting them installed, while Walt Disney and all other “open-concept” schools will have drywall replace temporary dividers.
The upgrades come with a $2 million cost, which the school board will pay with government obligation bonds.
Districts wanting to pursue larger projects must appeal to voters for funding. That’s what the School City of Mishawaka plans to do in November, Jacobsen writes.
We’ve written before that school districts already planning construction are taking an opportunity to improve security. Fort Wayne Community Schools is upgrading 36 schools as part of a $119 million building project. Snider High School will get a new entrance that is safer and more modern.
If you’re curious about how a revamped entrance can improve security, check out our story on what a high school in lockdown is like.