By: Nadeen Abusada Posted at 6:57 AM, Aug 23, 2023, on news5cleveland.com
LAKEWOOD, Ohio — There’s a new line of defense against unwanted intruders at Lakewood City Schools after receiving a million-dollar safety grant.
Austin Sparks, who has been teaching at Lakewood City Schools for five years, told News 5 he just loves the relationship with the students and watching them grow.
“It's very depressing because as a teacher and as a district we try to pride ourselves in having a positive system with building passive relations with kids making every kid feel welcome and safe within our classroom,” said Sparks.
But this school year, he's got one extra tool to block intruders from coming in. It’s called the Bolo stick.
“Should there be a broadcasted locked down the teacher in the classroom or the adult in the classroom would know enough to come take the bolo stick, pull it out of the holster. Drop it into the door bracket and the door is secure,” said Chris Donahoe, Director of Operations at Lakewood City Schools, said.
Lakewood City Schools used a million-dollar safety school grant to upgrade security measures on 658 doors, which involve high-strength steel bolo sticks.
The goal with the insertion of the stick is if someone tries to open the door, they can’t. For weeks the districts tested multiple systems on the four different types of doors they have to see which worked best.
“They all range around the same cost range as well as installation, but the bolo stick gives us more features with the variety of doors that we have in our classrooms,” said Donahoe.
Though the stick is simple and may not prevent an incident from occurring.
“What we need to do is provide enough tools to our students, our staff, our building leaders to ensure that if something was to occur, they would feel safe,” said Lakewood City Schools Superintendent Maggie Niedzwiecki.
It gives teachers and students peace of mind.
“It's just like it's reassuring that it's there. If need be, and I think like we always do prepare for lockdown situations,” said Sparks.
An ability to focus on learning in the classroom.
“Our number one job is to make kids feel safe. Hey, feel comfortable and develop into positive human beings. If they're not comfortable first, we can’t achieve the other stuff,” said Sparks.
In the situation of a lockdown, the police department does have a tool that can unlock the doors. The goal is to have all these sticks installed by this fall.
Niedzwiecki adds that they are also looking at measures for the outside of the building, including a new intercom system.
By: Nadeen AbusadaPosted at 6:57 AM, Aug 23, 2023 and last updated 6:57 AM, Aug 23, 2023