CHARLESTON, W.Va. - State education officials are trying to work safety measures into several school building projects that are already in the works.
Any new building project funded by the School Building Authority after April will implement a slew of school safety features. But officials are evaluating projects that are currently in the works to see if any of those same features can be incorporated at the last minute.
Many of the safety measures were already being designed into new schools - like "man traps" where an intruder would be held if they weren't authorized to enter the building. There are barriers to fully implementing some features in buildings that are already under construction, though, due to either time or money.
Officials have been able to add a handful of additional safety features to the new Leading Creek Elementary School, the new inter-county school being built for Lewis and Gilmer counties, for example. But including those features - shatter-resistant glass in the doors and some other modifications to the entryways, among other things - added more than $100,000 to the school's $11 million price tag.
At a Monday meeting of the School Building Authority, the state agency charged with divvying up funds for school construction projects, Executive Director Mark Manchin said the authority would take the increased costs into account as it evaluates potential projects in the future.
"There have been incidences, obviously, that makes this necessary," he said. "And I think in the world we live in we have to be ever vigilant in providing the safest schools we can for the state of West Virginia."
All new schools in West Virginia will have a number of new safety standards. Shatter-resistant glass will be installed on at least the front doors - the glass will withstand a direct shot so an intruder can't shoot their way through the entrance.
Each building will also have a remote entry system with a "man trap," Manchin said, "so that when you get that far into the building you have to be buzzed in by the appropriate individual in order to get into the rest of the building.
"They'll literally look at the individual before they get into the rest of the building."
All schools also will have a panic button in the main office so that emergency crews can be quickly summoned.
Some schools may include additional safety features, where it's appropriate. Manchin said architects would be encouraged to take safety into account as they design each building, and the SBA will take that into account as they evaluate the plans, and the cost for each new project.
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.