What the states should do to prevent more school shootings

To tell the truth, I didn’t want to write about the terrible events of December 14, 2012, when 20 children and six adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. I figured other media would provide ample coverage, and anything we did would look cheap or inappropriate. But two things turned me around.

January 10, 2014 |
Rob Cassidy

(Editor's Note: This blog post is part of BD+C's five-part special report on security design for K-12 school projects. Read the full report.)

 

To tell the truth, I didn’t want to write about the terrible events of December 14, 2012, when 20 children and six adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. I figured other media would provide ample coverage, and anything we did would look cheap or inappropriate.

Two things turned me around. The first was hearing from AEC professionals and manufacturers of door hardware, blastproof glass, and other security products, who said they couldn’t keep up with the phone calls from school officials across the country, all of them desperate for a quick fix so that “another Sandy Hook” would never happen on their watch. Irene Nigaglioni, a Partner at PBK Architects, told me that one school official even asked her about bulletproof furniture.

The thing that really got me, though, was that the shootings just kept going on and on. By the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook incident, more than 20 school shootings had taken place in the U.S., including one in Sparks, Nev., where a teacher was killed, and another just this past December 13, in Centennial, Colo., barely 10 miles from the infamous Columbine High School.

Meanwhile, in Newtown, 88% of the 5,062 voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to tear town the mid-1950s elementary school and build a new one on the same site, with funding coming from a $50 million grant from the state. Svigals + Partners won the design competition, with Consigli Construction as project manager.

When the vote was reported on Yahoo (http://yhoo.it/JZ9R5I), more than 2,000 people responded, many of them angry at what they saw as the waste of a good building, others outraged by the opulence of the grant.

“50 million dollars?” wrote one. “That school must have solid-gold toilets, valet parking, limousine service for every child, five-star French chefs, and platinum silverware for the kids to eat with!”

Meanwhile, Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission issued an interim report last March (the final report is expected later this year), based in part on input from informational meetings on infrastructure design, school safety and security, and gun violence.

The Commission made only two specific recommendations: 1) that all K-12 classrooms be equipped with doors that could be locked from the inside by the teacher, and 2) that all exterior doors be equipped with hardware capable of implementing a full perimeter lockdown.

In addition, the Commission recommended that school districts “consider” developing an All-Hazards Threat and Risk Assessment Security Recommendations (TRASR) tool on a site-specific basis, to include “rational and credible protective design of building and site components” based on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) strategies.

The report noted that “no standard exists for the baseline of safe school design or a process to determine appropriate safe school design elements.” In fact, most states have no standards or regulations on security in the design of schools.

We think it’s time for the states, working through such groups as the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association, to put “security” into their requirements for school construction. As we note in our Special Report, however, security design and technology can only go so far. Training and preparedness at the local level are equally important. 

 

(Editor's Note: This blog post is part of BD+C's five-part special report on security design for K-12 school projects. Read the full report.)

Rob Cassidy | Building Team Blog

Robert Cassidy is Executive Editor of Building Design+Construction. A city planner, he is the author of several books, including “Livable Cities,” and was a co-founder of the Friends of the Chicago River.

Related Blogs

Intel Co-founders (l. to r.): Andrew Grove, Robert Noyce, and Gordon Moore. Photo: Wikimedia Commons   

June 27, 2016 | AEC Tech | Building Team Blog

“Sooner or later, something fundamental in your business world will change.” The late Andrew Grove (1936-20...

Photo: Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Corey Lewis , U.S. Navy, via Wikimedia Commons; photo filter via BeFunky.com

May 31, 2016 | AEC Tech | Building Team Blog

As buildings become increasingly connected, opportunistic hackers have countless avenues into a building’s...

Lexus RX 450h self-driving car. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

May 09, 2016 | AEC Tech | Building Team Blog

Despite popular belief, the country is not in a great age of technological and digital innovation, at least...

Deep Learning + AI: How machines are becoming master problem solvers

The world’s top Go player Lee Sedol puts the first stone against Google’s artificial intelligence program AlphaGo during the third match of the Google DeepMind Challenge match in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Reuters/Google/Yonhap

March 31, 2016 | AEC Tech | Building Team Blog

Besides revolutionary changes to the world’s workforce, artificial intelligence could have a profound impac...

Yotel, New York City. Photo: JasonParis, flickr creative commons

March 09, 2016 | Hotel Facilities | Building Team BlogRobert Cassidy, Executive Editor

Hotels are going for a new minimalist look to attract younger guests, but some older business travelers don...

Is the booming freelance economy a threat to AEC firms?

Photo: Pixabay

February 24, 2016 | Architects | Building Team Blog

By shifting the work (and revenue) to freelancers, “platform capitalism” startups have taken considerable m...

How the Fourth Industrial Revolution will alter the globe’s workforce

Photo: Pixabay

January 26, 2016 | BIM and Information Technology | Building Team Blog

The next great technological metamorphosis will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before, due to...

Potential vs. credential: How men and women differ in career progress

Courtesy Pixabay

January 05, 2016 | Architects | Building Team BlogDavid Barista, Editorial Director

Recent research suggests that women face yet another career impediment: the confidence gap.

Meet the world’s next great construction superpower

Photo: Wili Hybrid via Wikimedia Commons 

December 23, 2015 | Industry Research | Building Team Blog

There’s a new world construction hotbed coming down the pike (more specifically, the Mumbai Nashik Expressw...

Photo: Deskmag via Wikimedia Commons

December 02, 2015 | Building Team Blog

Researchers at Harvard, SUNY-Upstate Medical Center, and Syracuse University conduct a controlled experimen...

Add new comment

Your Information
Your Comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.
Overlay Init