Elementary school plans $3M upgrade, including security improvements

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Mid-South elementary school announced plans Tuesday to increase security.

Lakeland Elementary School leaders hope to beef up security at the entrance of the school.

"It's probably one of the last schools built without a secure entrance," Lakeland School System Superintendent Ted Horrell said.

Horrell said security improvements at the elementary school have been debated for years, but until now, the talk has not turned into action.

Horrell said the problem with the elementary school is that there isn't currently a second layer of security. Once visitors are buzzed into the front door, they have access to the school.

"Once you walk in, now basically you've got access to every wing of the building," Horrell said.

The proposed improvements would convert a neighboring classroom into a secure area, so visitors would have to be buzzed in twice before directly talking to a receptionist and going through the sign-in process.

The safety improvements are included in a plan that will add 8-12 new classrooms to the school. The pricetag for the project is expected to cost around $3 million.

"School safety and security is one of the most important things we're charged with," Horrell said.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was in Washington on Tuesday to talk about school safety in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Texas.

"The tragedy at Santa Fe High School in Texas was only the most recent devastating reminder that our nation must come together to address the underlying issues that create a culture of violence," DeVos said.

DeVos told a House of Representatives panel the Trump administration's commission on school safety will issue its full report by the end of the year.

DeVos told lawmakers states and local communities bear the primary responsibility for the physical security of schools; she did not mention firearm laws or gun control.

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