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Janesville schools referendum construction to begin in June

Every school building in the Janesville School District likely will have a secure entrance by fall 2022, paid for through the $22.5 million capital referendum voters approved in November, according to a timeline provided Tuesday.

Mike Johnson, project estimator for JP Cullen, told The Gazette before Tuesday’s school board meeting that each building will require different work, but the exact details and costs have not yet been identified.

Overall, the upgrades will ensure that all visitors have human interaction before they are allowed into any building.

“We are still in the design development phase and budgeting phase. So we’re expecting, roughly, construction to start around June 1,” Johnson said.

“There’s going to be a different response for each building. Some of them have higher levels of renovation, and some of them are quite simply adding a few cameras and updating door hardware. So we have quite a spectrum of construction.”

The construction will have three phases:

  • Security at Adams, Harrison, Jefferson, Lincoln, Van Buren and Washington elementary schools will be designed in the next month, and construction is scheduled from July through August.
  • Phase two will take place during the next school year and will feature upgrades to Edison and Marshall middle schools, Parker High School and Jackson, Madison, Monroe and Wilson elementary schools.
  • Phase three will begin in summer 2022 at Craig High School, Kennedy and Roosevelt elementary schools, Franklin Middle School, TAGOS Leadership Academy, Rock River Charter School and the Educational Services Center.

Tory Schulz, project manager for Eppstein Uhen Architects, said every school entrance is “unique.”

“What works in one district may not be appropriate for another district, and what works at one building might not be the response that we look to implement in different buildings,” he said.

“So there isn’t a hard and fast rule. It’s really a district-driven policy about what sort of security they want to have in place, and what steps and procedures they want visitors to go through in order to have access to the buildings.”

He said school districts nationwide are focusing on secure entrances for schools.

“I would say there’s probably not a district out there that school safety and security is not one of their top priorities right now,” Schulz said. “I think the vast majority of districts that we work with across the state, that’s always one of their areas of focus.”

Schulz said the architects talk to principals to determine security options and setup at each school.

“A lot of different things come into play,” he said. “It’s about how you approach each building, and I think that’s really the start of it, is how do you have people come up to the building? And from there, it becomes a matter of once they’re at your front door, how do you let them in? And some buildings prefer to keep people outside; some buildings let you come in a little bit before they greet you.

“But it’s, like I said, that there really is no specific answer that works 100% of the time because really every building is unique.”

While school entrances likely will be moved during construction, district Chief Financial Officer Dan McCrea said security will be maintained.

“Our buildings are secure now,” McCrea said. “It’s really about enhancing the level of entry into the building. ... So we don’t want people to think that they can just walk up and open up a door.”

Benjamin Price

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