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West Valley School District pushes for secured entries at its four remaining schools without them

The West Valley School District is making a final push this summer to complete secured entries at the only four schools in the district that still don’t have them.

The effort to create secured, double-door entries at each school has been ongoing.

“We started about four years ago and did one or two a year,” said Superintendent Gene Sementi.

Each school has two sets of doors at the front entrance. The first set is left unlocked during the day, but any visitors must identify themselves and sign in at the office before being buzzed in through the second set of locked doors.

This summer crews are installing the secured entries at Orchard Center Elementary, Pasadena Park Elementary, West Valley City School and Ness Elementary schools.

Before the remodels began the district did what it could to make all its schools safer, Sementi said.

“We’ve worked hard to create single points of entry, but there’s nothing that would stop someone from running through,” Sementi said.

Some schools have been relatively simple to remodel for the secured entry but others, like Centennial Middle School, were more difficult. “Some required extensive remodeling,” he said.

The district started the secured entry effort with the largest schools – the high schools, he said.

The entry system will look a little different at West Valley City School, which is in an old, split-level building that can’t have a double entry installed. There is also no line of sight from the office to the front door. “We’re putting in a remote TV system for now,” Sementi said.

With school shootings frequently in the news, secured entries are the norm in new school construction, Sementi said. School districts around the country have been adding secured entries wherever possible, including local school districts in Spokane County. “I think we’ve all been at the same speed,” he said.

Sementi estimates that this summer’s projects will cost about $100,000, bringing the total spent on building secured entries to around $400,000.

School shootings around the country, including one at Freeman High School last fall, convinced Sementi to finish the last four in one big push rather than continuing the previous pace of one or two a year. It just felt like it was time, he said.

“We just felt like the end was in sight,” he said. “The four that are left are pretty simple. I thought we might as well err on the side of caution.”