CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia School Building Authority is expected to take a significant step next month when it comes to improving the safety of new school buildings.
SBA Executive Director Mark Manchin told MetroNews Tuesday the board will adopt an increase in the school construction square footage formula to pay for the added security when it meets in Sept.
“We’re going to be adding probably what will amount to, every new school built in the state, an additional 50 to 75-thousand dollars in our formula that we will be able to incorporate these new concepts into school safety,” Manchin said.
The increase in cost is expected to be about $2.50 per square foot.
Manchin and the SBA have previously said all new school buildings will include shatter-proof glass, a line of site entry, a mantrap, controlled entries on all doors and be equipped with red button access to 911 in case a school security issue does occur.
West Virginia began looking at enhanced school safety following the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut last Dec.
Manchin said working the measures into the square footage cost shows these are not just proposals but will actually occur.
“We’ve had people call from around the country who are aware of what we are doing in West Virginia and taking this leadership. People are excited about making our schools probably the safest in the United States,” Manchin said.
The SBA has been able to get the increased school safety measures in the post-design stage for new schools in Wyoming, Pleasants, Jackson, Lewis and Gilmer counties.
Manchin predicted the schools would still be aesthetically attractive even with the increased safety measures.
“I doubt that you even notice the shatter-proof glass. I doubt that you even notice the line of site. I doubt that you even notice the controlled entries and all of that,” he said. “It will still look like a very inviting school because we’re all concerned about that.”
Improving safety for existing school buildings is “problematic” according to Manchin. He said discussion continues with the governor’s office on possible options. He said installing shatter-proof glass may be the best option.
“The cost is a little greater, you have to take the frames off, but we are reviewing that right now and discussing the possibility of providing funds to upgrade existing buildings,” Manchin said.