More Bay District schools to undergo hardening renovations

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The days of simply walking onto school campuses will be over for some schools.

As Bay District Schools leaders continue to renovate the front office spaces in local schools to enhance school security, two more are next on the list.

Rutherford High School and Tyndall Elementary School will join the group of Bay District schools in which visitors are funneled into a one-way-in, one-way-out front office, also known as "controlled access point."

This doesn't come after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February though. Plans to beef up these two schools have been in the works.

The measures to be discussed include thickness of glass and magnetic locks.

"Guests and visitors will all be directed into the front office where they'll produce the credentials of why they're there, and they'll be buzzed into the campus if they need to go beyond of it's just a matter of dropping off something for a student, they can drop it off in the front office and won't go past the secure entryway if need be," Lee Walters, Director of Facilities for Bay District Schools, said.

He explained the two projects would cost $580,000 in total. The money comes from a loan of $5 million borrowed by the district.

The hope is the money will be supplemented by state funding, as guaranteed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.

A news release from Governor Rick Scott's staff regarding the new law reads in part:

"Provides $99 million to address specific school safety needs within each school district. This includes school hardening measures such as metal detectors, bulletproof glass, steel doors and upgraded locks. The Florida Department of Education (DOE) will establish the Office of Safe Schools and will work in consultation with sheriffs and police chiefs to approve school safety plans and provide school hardening grants to school districts."

Other schools to be renovated in the future include Everitt and Jinks middle schools.

The goal is to see workers out at Rutherford and Tyndall this week to begin those projects.

They will take an estimated 12 to 16 months to complete.