Lodi Unified School District is pouring millions into security improvements to make sure their schools don’t become the next Columbine or Sandy Hook.
Moms like Bobbi Lapham couldn’t be happier about it. Just a few weeks ago, there were rumors a shooting would take place at her older son’s high school. It never did, but Lapham held her breath for nearly six hours, hoping everything would be O.K.
“I sat at home. Just on pins and needles, waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for something to happen,” Lapham said.
Just this summer, the district will spend $80,000 on Bobbi’s youngest son’s school: Sutherland Elementary School in Stockton.
Safety is their school principal’s biggest priority.
Soon after Principal Harold Brown stepped on campus four yeas ago, an electronic security gate was installed. It’s one of the three schools in the Lodi School District with a security gate.
Students punch in a code to get in. The ones who are late have to buzz in, and the secretary in the school office then allows them to enter.
The cost of the electronic fortress at Sutherland is close to $30,000.
Ten cameras cover nearly every outdoor spot and also track who’s outside the gate.
“I can see the license on the car,” Principal Brown said as he watched the outside flow of traffic from a campus library.
This summer, two more security cameras will be added to Sutherland’s security system.
“There are some blind spots. We want to make sure there are no blind spots,” Assistant Superintendant Tim Hern said.
Every camera gets a video quality upgrade.
A new system will also allow staff to see any school camera 24 hours a day from their smartphones.
Hern says all the schools are being worked on.
“Twenty-four of our 52 campuses were built before 1980. Campuses in those days were built to be open centers, as community centers,” Hern told FOX40.
For Principal Brown, it’s his duty to keep intruders out. He was an intelligence officer during the Vietnam War.
“In the military, we had to make sure our country was safe and other people weren’t coming in,” he said. “Same thing here. We have to make sure our kids are safe.”
School officials know these improvements can only do so much. But, for moms like Lapham, it’s an investment that’s worth every penny.
“I’m a nervous mom,” Lapham said. “I sit there and shake all day.”