Throughout the summer break, seven schools around the Kyrene School District have had their front office remodeled to increase safety for its students and staff.

The seven schools include Kyrene del Norte Elementary School, Kyrene de las Brisas Elementary School, Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School, Kyrene de los Niños Elementary School, Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary School and Kyrene de las Manitas Elementary School.

The front-office remodels gives each school a visitors lobby for families and students, and access to the school will be given through a “buzzable door” controlled by office staff.

Plate glass will also separate office staff from the visitors’ lobby.

The see-through glass gives a sense of security without coming off as too restrictive.

According to the district’s website, in 2005, the community passed a capital bond that gave the district funds to enhance student safety — which included the removal of portable buildings at all schools, all classrooms that opened to the outside now open into a corridor, fencing at some schools were altered and an integrated security system was installed to include intrusion alarms, access control and video surveillance cameras.

Mike Deignan, principal at Akimel A-al Middle School, said construction of the front office began during the first month of summer break.

“We separate out the visitors and we grant them access to the rest of the school,” he said.

According to the district’s website, administrators met with the district Safety and Security Committee, Kyrene Facilities Department and local architects to review district standards and ensure the draft project design met front office needs and layout.

Deignan said Akimel’s office was redone because of the previous front-office layout.

“We had more open space, so to put up the walls themselves was going to be less intrusive than in some of the other schools,” he said. “The more we can do to make our campuses secure, the better. This is one of those steps, and if we do it correctly, without appearing too restrictive, I think it serves its purpose.”

Office staff also had an input on the design to minimize any complications to their work, Deignan said.

“We sat down on three or four planning meetings, and it was quite positive,” he said.

Construction will finish before the first day of school, which is Monday, Aug. 4.

Remodels for the remaining 18 Kyrene schools, along with the district office, will be completed by the end of summer 2015.

For more information, visit www.kyrene.org.

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