As Minnesota schools enhance security, how much is too much?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

As students arrive at St. Paul public schools Tuesday, some will pass through new entrances that require card access once school is underway. There will be cameras, new motion detectors and an upgraded alarm system. Ten police officers and 40 contracted guards will patrol the district’s schools.

Visitors to Anoka-Hennepin elementary schools will need to swipe a driver’s license to gain entry. A similar scanning system at Stillwater middle schools will tap into a national sex-offender base before printing out a visitor’s pass.

And while three metro-area districts brace for referendums to raise millions of dollars to bolster school security, others debate installing coatings to make glass more shatterproof, renovating school entrances and whether they should hire more police liaison officers or private security.

As the first new school year begins since 20 elementary-school children and six staff members were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December, security concerns are testing school officials throughout the nation like never before. In Minnesota, officials not only wonder how to pay for improved and added security, but grapple with a new equation that adds up differently from district to district: How much security is too much?

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