Plum School District officials dedicate new high school vestibule, show other security upgrades
Plum School District officials believe their new security vestibule will become the safety standard at other schools.
“Sometimes they say the leading edge is the bleeding edge, but not in this case,” Superintendent Brendan Hyland said. “We’re leading, and I think you’re going to be very proud of the amount of effort, the amount of time, the resources and the technology that has been put into this.”
School board members, administrators, borough council and other Plum dignitaries participated in a dedication ceremony for the new vestibule at the high school Tuesday night.
The new 20-by-18-foot security facility features bullet-resistant glass and several large monitors that access more than 360 surveillance cameras throughout the district.
Administrators can also access those cameras and control all external doors from their phones.
It’s located to the right of the main high school entrance, which was designated as a visitor doorway.
The entire exterior of the entrance also received paint, signage and electronic upgrades. Students and staff enter through the left doors.
“You want to have these things and keep it safe, but you also want it to be welcoming to students and families,” said Daniel Lauletta, the district’s technology director.
Visitors would press a button outside to activate a network video door station. A security guard then either checks the monitors or window to see the person and buzz them in to the first set of doors and sign-in area.
The guest’s identification is then scanned through the Raptor visitor management system to check the person’s name and date of birth for comparison with a national database of registered sex offenders.
If everything clears, that person is given a visitor’s tag and goes through a second set of doors where someone will escort them to where they need to go.
The doors are secured through an electronic system that prevents either set to be open until the other closes.
Vestibule security cost borough $157,000
District Business Manager John Zahorchak said the vestibule project cost about $157,000 with several companies contributing to it.
AB Specialties of Turtle Creek handled the doors and glass. Encompass Building Group of New Kensington framed the structure as well as installed windows and painted, among other work. CCL Technologies in Greensburg and Dagostino Electronic Services handled the electrical work.
The vestibule and other security upgrades were paid for by the borough. Both entities began safety discussions more than a year ago.
Council President Mike Doyle said he and his colleagues were prompted to improve school district safety after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. in February 2018. A teen gunman killed 17 people and injured several others.
Council gifted the district about $170,000 for safety upgrades including a vulnerability study, software, cameras and the vestibule.
“You guys did all the heavy lifting; all we did at the borough was write a check, and we were happy to do it,” Doyle said. “There’s nothing more important in this community than the safety of our children.”
School board President Scott Coulson said unfortunate circumstances have necessitated more safety measures be taken.
“Almost weekly it seems, we see on the news tragedies and violence affecting communities and school districts around our country,” Coulson said. “Although there are different thoughts and discussions on the cause, we must do our best on the attempt at prevention.
Officials credited school board Vice President Vicky Roessler, Lauletta, Assistant Superintendent Rick Walsh and his brother John Walsh, director of facilities and grounds, with making the vestibule a success.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .