Suspect in custody after police search that prompted Palmer lockdown

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Plans for a new school are in the works for a consolidated kindergarten through eighth-grade facility in Easthampton.

The preliminary construction blueprints focus on security.

“It’s top of mind for parents, students and the community as a whole,” Thomas Brown, chair of the Easthampton School Building Committee said. “A lot of time and effort went into what are the latest security features that we can add to make the school as safe as possible.”

In light of recent national events and a string of local school threats, the Easthampton School Building Committee said they are making some additions to the original design.

For instance, security doors at the separate middle and elementary school entrances, as seen in the plan proposal given to Western Mass News.

Bert Gardner, a registered architect with Caolo & Bieniek, said one of the plan's goals is to keep police connected.

“There will certainly be surveillance at the school with a tie to police dispatch so they can see what’s happening,” Gardner said.

The town is also including things like shatterproof glass and bullet resistant hardware on doors into their design.

“Someone could activate a lockdown sequence and the classroom wing doors would all close and lock,” Gardner told us.

Bringing four schools together is a security tactic on its own.

The idea being that the school resource officer could easily patrol the one facility and if anything were to happen at different schools, emergency crews would not have to divvy up their resources.

“They have served us well but they are just tired buildings and they weren’t designed for the teaching standards of the 21st century,” Brown said.

Easthampton Police Chief Robert Alberti said these schools are between 40 and a 100 years old.

He said it's time to bring the school into the modern day with state of the line technology.

“As we design the building we’re constantly trying to think about ways, or be thoughtful about how the building was laid out in the architecture to create a safer environment for students,” Gardner said.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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