Dixon pursues school safety upgrades

$68,000 could come from grant

DIXON – The Dixon school district is looking to add cameras and more secure entrances to its four schools for next year.

Kevin Schultz, the district's director of buildings and grounds, presented the school board with $173,882 worth of security upgrades to the high school, Reagan Middle School and Jefferson and Washington elementary schools.

The Lincoln Elementary School building will be closed after this school year.

The upgrades include 16 security cameras at each school, recording equipment for the cameras, and vestibule upgrades at Reagan, Washington and Jefferson.

Often, school shooters take the path of least resistance, Superintendent Michael Juenger said, so adding more secure entryways might make access for visitors more inconvenient, but it will be worth it.

The district applied for a grant – worth $68,050 – through the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Schultz said, and could know in April whether it will receive the money.

The school board supported moving forward with the project, even without knowing whether the grant money would come through. If the district gets the grant, it will have to pay for $105,832 of the total cost.

The $173,882 cost is an estimate from the district's engineers, Schultz said.

The work could be paid for from the district's tort fund, Juenger said, because the security upgrades are listed in the district's risk management plan.

The tort fund can be used to develop and carry out risk management plans. It can also be used to fight litigation against the schools. It comes from a tax levy.

At the end of the district's current fiscal year, the tort fund could have a balance of about $450,000, district officials said.

The security upgrade work could be put out to bid in April, approved in May, and completed during the summer, Schultz said.