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School district discusses increased safety

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) – “Our plan and our hope is that they approve this,” said Urbana Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Ivory-Tatum.

It will be a few weeks before a final decision is made, but a school board is considering a new security system to keep students safe. Urbana isn’t the first district to talk about adding metal detectors, but they are the most recent.

The Urbana School District has been discussing the plan since the summer, but they really wanted to take even more action after a teenager from Urbana was gunned down last week. Although it was not at school, they hope it can still help stop some of the violence.

“Violence in our community has increased,” said Superintendent Ivory-Tatum. “We know that many of our young people are linked to some of this violence. “

With violence raging in central Illinois, leaders of the Urbana School District are considering stepping up security measures at the high school.

“We had concerns about whether or not there were weapons in our school,” Superintendent Ivory-Tatum said. “It’s a great way for us, with minimal disruption to the learning environment, to check on a daily basis whether this is happening or not. “

After stepping up supervision, monitoring student entry and exit, and adding other safety measures, the superintendent wants to take even more measures.

“It’s not just our students bringing in and taking things out,” said Superintendent Ivory-Tatum. “It’s also about ensuring the safety of our students while they are in the building. Away from things in the community to come inside our buildings.

School board members heard a presentation from an Ohio-based company. They talked about installing a unique type of metal detector.

“The ones we’re looking at are specifically weapon detection systems so you could walk around the building with your phone and your keys and your wallet and all your stuff and it wouldn’t do that at all. It’s really looking for weapons and threats against the building, ”said John Gutzmer, information officer for the Urbana school district.

This system is lightweight and can be moved as needed. It can be purchased directly and would cost around $ 65,000.

“Doing things so that the school feels safe, but it doesn’t feel like you are walking through an airport or entering a place where they do like very high level screenings,” Gutzmer said.

Urbana is also considering purchasing a second system. These detectors would be bigger, more difficult to move, and with a 4-year lease that would cost around $ 2,300.

“One of our main responsibilities, mine as Superintendent, is to keep everyone safe in our district, so that’s one of the ways we could do it in a really non-intrusive way. “said Gutzmer.

The district also interviewed students and staff. They say the results showed that a majority of students and staff want something done and they believe there are already guns inside the school. Council members will vote on metal detectors on January 18.