North Merrick district weighs security choices


Like many school districts across the nation, North Merrick is considering a range of measures to increase security in its three elementary schools — Camp Avenue, Fayette and Old Mill Road — in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December.

At a special meeting of the North Merrick Board of Education on March 12, James Saitta, the district’s facilities director, gave a presentation about school security that outlined multiple options that the Board of Education could pursue, along with their costs.

Options included:

— Adding interior and exterior cameras for $945,600.

— Installing proximity card readers for $70,800.

— Door buzzer upgrades for $24,000.

— “Vestibule hardening” for $90,000.

— ID verification technology, which would check building visitors’ IDs against a national sex offender database and print ID badges, for $18,000.

— One interior unarmed guard per school from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. during school days for $80,000.

— One interior unarmed guard per school from 7 a.m. to midnight during school days for $151,000.

— One exterior unarmed guard in a patrol car from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day of the year for $109,500.

— Installing new windows at Fayette with sliding energy-efficient glazing and new window treatments for $1,180,600.

— Installing the same new windows at Old Mill Road for $1,145,300

— Replacing certain exterior doors at all schools for $93,200.

— Lighting the parking lots at Fayette and Old Mill Road for $212,400.

— Further upgrading exterior lighting at all schools for $33,500.

— Installing panic buttons in three different locations in each school for $265,500.

It is unlikely that the board will adopt all of these options. “The board needs to have a follow-up discussion to prioritize how we want to spend our money,” said North Merrick Superintendent David Feller in a later interview. “Jim [Saitta] mentioned a lot of things, and we can’t afford to do everything on his list.”

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