August 19. 2013 9:36PM

School year to begin with heightened security, millions in planned upgrades

In addition to security updates at schools, law enforcement has been training to deal with armed intruders in schools. In this file photo, Rockingham County Sheriffs Deputy Doug Lorenz, left, Lt. Shanon Goff and deputy Mike Chavez train at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston. (James Kimball/Union Leader)

Students in several districts will see increased security at schools when classes resume.

The Manchester school district has applied for grants to cover the cost of upgrades to room-to-room intercom systems at elementary schools. School officials are awaiting results of security audits being conducted at four city schools by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Nashua will put $1.9 million into a district-wide upgrade, Chief Financial Officer Dan Donovan said.

Much of the project is covered by a $2.4 million bond for school security projects, approved by the Board of Aldermen earlier this year.

The security upgrades are expected to be completed in September.

The district spent about $400,000 of the bond money on the purchase and installation of special locks on classroom doors. The locks, which can be locked from both the inside and outside of a room, are being installed in every classroom.

Nashua's two high schools are receiving more than $300,000 in upgrades, with the three middle schools and 12 elementary schools receiving between $100,000 and $200,000 in upgrades. The upgrades include motion sensors, upgraded camera systems, cameras on every entrance and exit in every school, new security substations and improved alarm systems.

Adults in Nashua school buildings will be required to wear a badge or pass that identifies who they are and what their role is in the building, while teachers and school staff will have electronic photo ID badges to lock and unlock doors to classrooms and to the building where they work.

Once school begins, all doors to buildings will be locked and cameras will monitor visitors who arrive and ring a buzzer at the front entrance.

In Salem, about $105,000 in security improvements is being made at town schools. The upgrades include installing buzzers, cameras, intercoms, and monitors at Salem High School, the Woodbury School and the Haigh, Fiske and Soule elementary schools, according to Superintendent of Schools Michael Delahanty. The security improvements were funded as part of the school budget.

Main entrances will be locked at all times and all visitors to the schools are required to be "buzzed in" to gain access to the school.

All side doors are already locked, said Delahanty. As part of the project, so-called "panic buttons" were installed in the main offices of the schools, and police radios were installed in school offices. A security card system is also being installed.

The renovations also included improvements to the schools' entryways, where Delahanty said in the past main office personnel at some schools had difficulty seeing who was entering the building.

Security improvements were made two years ago during renovation work at three other elementary schools in the district — the Lancaster, North Salem and Barron schools.

Following the Newtown, Conn., shootings last December, officials in the Concord School District made sure all the doors at city schools — except the front door — were locked at all times, said Matt Cashman, Concord's director of facilities. The district is adding buzzers and security cameras to the entrance of its high school, along with the Beaver Meadow and Broken Ground schools, Cashman said. The middle school and three elementary schools already have similar technology in place.

In Milford, a new fire alarm is in place at the high school and panic alarms have been installed in all schools in the district, said Superintendent Robert Suprenant.

In Derry, additional security cameras have been installed at the West Running Brook and Gilbert H. Hood middle schools said Jane Simard, the district's business manager.