CUSD building ‘sally-ports’ at elementary schools SanTan Sun News

CUSD building ‘sally-ports’ at elementary schools

May 11th, 2021 STSN Staff
CUSD building ‘sally-ports’ at elementary schools
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SANTAN SUN NEWS STAFF

Chandler Unified School District is planning to spend nearly $1.5 million on boosting security measures at 10 elementary schools.

Concord General Contracting and Chasse Building Team have been awarded contracts to construct “sally-port” entrances at the Andersen, Auxier, Basha, Carlson, Fulton, Haley, Hull, Humphrey, Patterson, and Riggs elementary campuses.   

A sally-port is a type of security infrastructure most often associated with prisons. But district officials say the upcoming renovations don’t mean Chandler schools are getting with barbed-wire fences or metal detectors.

“That is not what we are building,” said Associate Superintendent Frank Fletcher. “We are building a central point of access.”

Fletcher described sally-ports as a holding area in the school’s front lobby where visitors would be required to wait before receiving authorization to enter the campus.

The sally-ports are intended to improve how a school’s security personnel will check visitors in and out throughout the day.

Redesigning the schools to incorporate a sally-port layout will typically involve renovating and repurposing existing classroom or office space.

The proliferation of school shootings across the country in recent years has been pushing districts like CUSD to boost security measures by installing more cameras and redesigning entryways.

Not long after 20 children were killed during a mass shooting at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, school districts in the surrounding area immediately began investing in building sally-port areas.

The name “sally-port” is a broad term that can have many different types of designs or uses.

Its origins date back to medieval times when castles were built with special entryways where troops could safely hide from enemy fire.

Sally-ports are perhaps most commonly used in prisons to safely move inmates from one secured location to another.

But this type of security measure has also been seen in jewelry stores, where a gated system is used to restrict the entrances and exits of suspicious customers.

CUSD has spent the last few years spending capital dollars on more security features at schools across the district.

More than $2 million was spent last October on installing six additional cameras at each of nearly all of Chandler’s elementary schools. In 2011, the district used some bond money to provide each campus with a 12-camera surveillance system.

Last year, Weinberg Gifted Academy received a number of renovations that included a sally-port entrance for a construction cost of about $1.1 million.

The recent sally-ports will be funded with money CUSD earned through a $290-million bond initiative voters passed in 2019. The district promised voters that a significant portion of the bond money would be spent on making schools safer.

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