$90M bond proposal to improve school district security

PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- An Ottawa County school district is asking for $90 million to make major improvements, including new school security measures. A few months ago, the 13 Watchdog team uncovered several possible threats at West Ottawa Schools. Now, the district plans to improve security at nearly a dozen facilities. However, before that happens, voters have to say "Yes" to the funding.

At Harbor Lights Middle School, only a check point stands between a stranger and the rest of the school.

"The reality is someone could walk past the checkpoint," says Greg Warsen, Assistant Superintendent for the West Ottawa School District.

The main entrance already has video surveillance; that does not stop someone who's trying to get into the building.

The main office is even farther down the hallway.

So now, school leaders at the West Ottawa School District are planning to revamp the front entrances at eight elementary and two middle school buildings.

It would cost about $8 million of the $90 million bond proposal.

"It would be a matter of getting that office space closer to the entrance, so that folks can enter into the office rather than going into some hallways before they get into the office," says Warsen.

There's also concern about what happens inside the buildings.

In February, the 13 Watchdog team found 25 expulsions at West Ottawa last year; six of them were weapons-related.

WZZM 13 asked Warsen if the number of weapons incidents has been too high.

"Anytime you have a weapons incident that's more than you want," says Warsen.

School leaders say they're constantly reviewing their policies on the inside as well.

"Our staff works really hard to maintain positive relationships with all of our students, so they have a finger on the pulse of what's going on," says Warsen.

Now, school leaders say they need the voters help to improve security from the outside, in.

School leaders say the bond proposal would not cost taxpayers any more than they're paying now. They say it would extend the current millage rate for another 9 or 10 years.

The issue will be on the ballot on May 6th.


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