A group of parents and teachers from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School addressed a board committee Monday night about efforts to remodel the school entrances to enhance safety of students and teachers.
The issue on the agenda of the Finance Committee of the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education concerned tentative plans for upcoming capital projects.
Specifically, the board was looking at plans for work on the school infrastructure for the next two summers.
Work is scheduled next summer on the district’s two magnet schools—King Arts and the Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies—to install secure double vestibule entrances. In addition, asbestos abatement and flooring replacement projects are planned for Walker Elementary.
Then in 2019, the remaining three elementary schools—Lincolnwood, Orrington, and Washington—will have the secure entrance work performed.
The King Arts delegation Monday night was there to impress upon the board that security measures are particularly critical at King Arts because of the nature of the building design.
Teachers noted that parents and others have managed to slip into the school, ascend the internal stairway, and gain access to classrooms without even being seen by officials in the downstairs main office.
In addition, they noted that an entrance at the rear of the building is also heavily utilized by students and visitors and that it needs to be secured as well.
Purpose of the double vestibule entrances is to provide initial access to a vestibule where visitors can be cleared before passing through another locked door for access to the classrooms.
In answer to questions, administration officials said the work was too extensive to be done during the shorter winter and spring breaks, and that it could not be done while school is in session because of the need to close some of the school’s exit points.
Summer work is also planned for roofing replacement at King Arts in both 2018 and 2019.
Because the committee spent more than an hour on the summer capital project plans, it deferred a discussion of delinquent lunch payments to a fall meeting.