The Coast News Group
The Rancho Santa Fe School District is installing an electronic access control system priced at more than $400,000 to enhance the safety features at R. Roger Rowe School. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene
CommunityRancho Santa Fe

Installation of automatic school locks underway

A new automatic system to lock classroom doors as well offer global lockdown capability is currently being installed in the Rancho Santa Fe School District. A 4-1 school board vote on March 14 approved the $424,000 system. The district’s capital facilities fund will pay for the lock upgrades.

The electronic access control system went out for public bid, and Accurate Security Pros, Inc. is doing the installation.

According to Brad Johnson, chief business officer at the Rancho Santa Fe School District, a little over a year ago the district hired School Safety Operations to assist with a hazard and vulnerability assessment. 

Jeff Kaye of School Safety Operations “looked at various safety measures throughout campus, and we at the time, were starting to finalize some of our research on the electronic access control system and folded that into part of the recommendations,” Johnson said. “Since then, we’ve brought presentations to our board of trustees and also shared this information with our Safety Advisory Committee and finally got approval to procure the system through one of our contractors.”

The electronic system chosen to manage the system is Identicard.

While the total cost of the system is $424,000, Johnson said a couple of other modifications will be made to gates and a few minor hardware adjustments so the total project cost may be closer to about $435,000.

Johnson said parental feedback was an essential part of the process, which included the Safety Advisory Committee.

“We wanted to make sure that any parents and community members that were involved with the school had a chance to participate and provide feedback. This was one of many things we discussed, but we did receive positive feedback,” Johnson said. “We also had a workshop recently after the Parkland shooting in 2018 where additional security measures were discussed with community members.”

Ben Holbert, the district’s technology director, said the existing lock system is Schlage, so they looked at the Schlage suite of electronic locks to preserve the same manufacturer for all the locks on the site, both electronic or mechanical, such as closets.

New system features will include global lockdown capability, lockout capability, ID card readers, perimeter gate controls, and door monitoring by way of electronic locks with a LED light “lock” indicator on the school’s 71 classroom doors. 

Holbert went on to say that the system’s zone control will allow individuals into certain areas and not others.

“There was also a desire to get away from a physical key that when the master is locked, you have to rekey the entire site,” Holbert said. 

Another safety enhancement will be a camera system outside of the school’s solid wood front doors with a large interior monitor for viewing.

According to Superintendent Donna Tripi, the work for the electronic access control system began during spring break and is continuing with work that can be done while school is still in session. However, when the students leave in June, the rest of the installation will be completed along with lock testing.

Tripi said the new system will afford a safer environment.

“The teachers especially will have the proximity cards and won’t have to worry about whether their classroom doors are locked or not. Because right now they can’t tell, and they have to go completely outside of the door to lock the doors at this point,” she said. “There will be a much easier and safer way to conduct business day to day.”