Palo Verde School safety

Workers remodel the lobby to have a more secure entrance Thursday June 6, 2019 at Palo Verde Elementary School. All Casa Grande Elementary District schools are having security remodeling done during the summer.

CASA GRANDE — With class out for the summer, Casa Grande elementary schools are undergoing significant work to improve safety.

All of the schools in the Casa Grande Elementary School District are getting new security measures. These improvements are funded by bonds that voters approved in 2016.

Much of the work is being done in the school lobbies, making it tougher for someone to enter the schools without permission from an employee. This includes requiring those arriving to be buzzed into the building by staff. There will also be entrance points that can only be opened through a card reader.

Other security measures include new doors with hardware upgrades, improved school panic buttons, better exterior lighting and the installation of intrusion tape on windows.

According to a price estimate presented to the district Governing Board in October, this work will total $4.77 million. All work is scheduled to be completed before the beginning of the school year, though the older schools have more to be done than the newer ones.

“We know from reading the papers, this is happening all over the United States, and we’re not immune from it happening here,” Chief Financial Officer Tom Wohlleber told the board in October. “Part of it is replacing classroom locks so they can be locked from the inside and teachers don’t have to go outside and turn their key, to electrifying doors so we can compartmentalize. So if someone does breach one of our buildings, they don’t have access to the whole building.”

This project is part of a $44.6 million bond issue, which is currently in its second phase of spending. Also included are new school buses, technology, infrastructure and facility improvement. The voter approval also included reconstruction of Casa Grande Middle and Saguaro Elementary schools, which opened last fall.