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SCHOOL SECURITY

Thames Valley Distric school board shuts door on costly locks, cameras

By Kelly Pedro, The London Free Press

(Free Press file photo)

(Free Press file photo)

Ontario’s third-largest school board has said no thanks to provincial cash to install security cameras and locks on elementary school front doors, saying it’s unwelcoming and would cost the board $514,433.

Dubbing it the Safe Welcome program, former premier Dalton McGuinty said Ontario would spend $10 million to upgrade front-door security systems at Ontario’s 4,000 elementary schools after the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012.

Thames Valley District school board got $415,400 for the program, but still had to chip in $514,433 to make it work.

But this week, after talking to parents and the community, trustees took a pass on the money.

“There was a lot of really good discussion and debate and we actually looked at all of the different options . . . (but) the board’s decision was not to move forward with the Safe Welcome program,” said board chairperson Ruth ­Tisdale.

“The best way to ensure the safety of our students is through the supervision and care of a responsible, caring adult.”

Citing concerns about creating an unwelcome feeling, leaving a perception that schools weren’t safe, giving a false sense of security and creating fear and anxiety, trustees decided not to go ahead with the program in its 134 ­elementary schools.

The program would require students and visitors to be buzzed in. Trustees considered the ­logistics of such a program, especially in schools with portables used for multiple purposes.

About 3,300 Ontario schools applied for the funding, including London District Catholic school board, which got $102,000 to supplement security systems in place at its 46 elementary schools.

kelly.pedro@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/KellyatLFPress

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