Gallery: Back To School

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — Keeping kids safe in the classroom is a top priority for schools and students as they head back to classes.

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On this first day of the year for so many, we’re taking a close look at the changes that could be made in a handful of districts. This fall, at least five school districts in our state will vote on safety referendums.

It’s after a gunman stormed an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and killed 26 first graders and educators last year.

Olson Middle School in Bloomington is one of the schools that could see these changes. The school made changes two years ago, when they added a secondary set of doors that will be locked funneling visitors into the office before the school.

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Schools have drilled for tornadoes and fires for years. But now, the Department of Homeland Security requires schools to rehearse an active shooter scenario at least five times a year. In November, Bloomington voters will decide if they’ll spend $6 million a year for more technology and safety upgrades, which include renovating all main entrances, and adding new locks and security cameras.

They are changes, some helping the school district make these improvements, that officials say they can’t afford not to make.

“When the school day starts the primary doors will be open, the secondary doors will be locked and funneling visitors into the office,” said Rick Kaufman with Bloomington Schools. “It’s important to create barriers so you buy time for law enforcement to respond.”

Technology can also make it much more difficult for intruders to do any damage. Eden Prairie Public Schools spent $20,000 stepping up security this fall by screening visitors ID’s. They will also vote on safety referendum in November.

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So is there any partnership with law enforcement when planning these initiatives? School districts and school safety groups ask police to get inside of schools and understand the layout and any emergency procedures along with faculty and staff.