At the April 15 Finance Committee meeting, John Castellana, a principal of TMP Architecture, presented preliminary drawings showing how the District could secure the entrances at seven school buildings and the Joseph Hill Administration Building, where the entrances have not already been made secure. Essentially, he proposed that an enclosed vestibule be added or created at each school.

A visitor to the schools would still have to be buzzed in to gain entry to the vestibule. But because the vestibule would be an enclosed area, the visitor would need to present credentials to school staff in order to gain further access to the school building.

Mr. Castellana estimated that the total cost to provide secure entrances at the eight buildings would be $1,029,755. This includes about $125,000 to construct two changing areas at Bessie Rhodes Magnet School. He rated four of the buildings as a “number 1” priority, and remaining four as a “number 2” priority.

Mr. Castellana also presented drawings that showed a way to connect the two buildings at Dawes Elementary School, at an estimated cost of $488,750. He proposed building an enclosed walkway toward the south. He recommended that the walkway be continuous, rather than have an opening half-way through the walkway with a covered area through which students could pass during recess or before or after school. He was asked to take a look at connecting the buildings with a walkway toward the west.

Board President Katie Bailey asked if secure entrances could be built at any of the schools this summer.

At the Board’s April 22 meeting, Superintendent Hardy Murphy recommended the Board authorize TMP Architecture to prepare construction documents and obtain bids to establish a secure entrance at Chute Middle School and to secure the entrance at the Joseph E. Hill Administration Building by installing a glass wall and doors to block open access to the upstairs administrative offices.

Mr. Castellana said he thought the secure entrance could be completed at Chute by November for an estimated project cost of $126,960 and the wall and doors installed at the administration building during the summer at a cost of $19,000.

The Board approved, by a 4-2 vote, authorizing TMP Architecture to prepare the drawings. Andrew Pigozzi and Jerome Summers voted no. Mr. Pigozzi said he thought the District could get lower bids to do the work if it bid the projects, together with other safe-entryway projects, early next year to be completed in the summer of 2014.

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...