Improved building security would be part of potential school renovations under review in Barrington Area Unit District 220.
School board member Angela Wilcox raised the security issue Tuesday night during a panel discussion on Blueprint 220, the district's long-term strategy on school renovations to meet future education needs, in part through flexible spaces and better technology.
District 220 officials say it's hoped a final master plan for the Blueprint 220 initiative will be ready within six months, after community feedback is received. School board members will be responsible for selecting from an array of projects and deciding how to pay for them.
Jason Lembke of Chicago-based DLR Group, an architecture consultant on the Blueprint 220 planning team, addressed Wilcox's question about potential security upgrades.
He said while detailed security proposals cannot be made public, work should not involve "hardening" the schools.
"Bulletproof glass, security cameras, metal detectors and the like don't necessarily have the impact that it would from a perception standpoint," Lembke said. "In other words, it adds comfort to the community to know that there are these things, but it doesn't actually, physically affect the security of the building as much as you think."
In his work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies, Lembke said he found creation of open areas for classes -- as proposed in Blueprint 220 -- improves safety. Schools also should use modern security techniques to allow for quick exits by students and employees, along with easy access for first responders in emergencies, he said.
Superintendent Brian Harris said access to the schools for certain employees with security roles should be improved for handling potential emergencies, noting how he cannot enter through every door using his identification card. He said there typically are just a couple of doors he can open with a swipe of his ID.
As part of the effort to gain community input, the district will continue a series of neighborhood meetings for Blueprint 220 at 7 p.m. Thursday, at Grove Elementary School, 2017 Grove. Ave. in Barrington.
Other presentations, also starting at 7 p.m., are set for Monday, Nov. 13, at North Barrington Elementary School, 24175 N. Grandview Drive; and Tuesday, Nov. 14, at Roslyn Road Elementary School, 224 Roslyn Road in Barrington.