• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 47s

In wake of Sandy Hook, Anchorage schools get safety improvements

By Alexis Fernandez Photojournalist: John Thain - 7:50 PM July 28, 2014

It’s been nearly two years since a gunman walked into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 26 people, including 20 children.

It was a wake-up call for school districts across the country.

In a couple of weeks, Anchorage students will be heading back to school. This year, there will be an added layer of security.

“We can see every entrance, and every other problem areas like playgrounds,” said Chris Woodward, principal at Mountain View Elementary.

Woodward will have a new set of eyes thanks to an upgraded surveillance system.

“You have to be able to observe things in order to control them,” he said.

It’s one of dozens of Anchorage schools getting safety improvements.

“It makes it easier for me to do the most important part of my job, which is working with kids and teachers,” Woodward said.

Along with active monitoring and 500 additional radios, all schools will have a duress alarm, known as a panic button. The alarm connects directly to the Anchorage Police Department.

“One of the needs that we identified based on the experience in Newtown and other experiences is a way to contact the authorities without using a phone,” said Mike Abbott, chief operating officer with the Anchorage School District.

“It’s designed to be in a place where a number of staff people can get to it, maybe if they’re sort of in a hurry, as you can see you just sort of lift that, hit the red button and away you go,” said Woodward, demonstrating how to use the alarm.

However, it’ll only be used as a last resort.

All elementary schools will also have electronic front door locks. Abbott says high schools will not be getting locked doors because data shows threats in secondary schools typically come from within the school. For elementary schools, however, the threat comes from outside of the school.

Woodward says although this is sadly the new norm, it’s the only way to prevent another Sandy Hook tragedy from happening in our city.

The improvements were paid for by a $6.4 million grant from the state. All improvements will be completed over the next several months.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Locally-owned Anchorage stores brace for ‘Small Business Saturday’

    by Liz Raines on Nov 27, 18:18

    Although Black Friday had a low turnout in Anchorage this year, many local businesses say they’re banking on Saturday sales. “‘Small Business Saturday’ is always the big push, people come out in full force which is awesome, we appreciate that, completely,” said Annie Ciszak Pazar, owner of Bella Boutique in Spenard. “You know they call […]

  • News

    Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting suspect in custody, 3 dead

    by CBS/AP on Nov 27, 18:10

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – An alleged gunman surrendered to police Friday, five hours after he opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Police Lt. Catherine Buckley said two civilians and one police officer were killed. The officer was from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police department, which was among the local […]

  • News

    Dangerous avalanche conditions continue across Southcentral Alaska

    by Heather Hintze on Nov 27, 17:39

    Warm, above-average temperatures mixed with wet, heavy snow have created extremely unsafe backcountry conditions across much of Southcentral Alaska. Avalanche forecaster Wendy Wagner wouldn’t venture into the Turnagain backcountry to check conditions on Friday. “We won’t even go off the road,” she explained. “We spend our time driving and looking for debris piles because you […]

  • Crime

    Spring Creek inmate faces attempted murder, assault charges

    by Shannon Kemp on Nov 27, 15:46

    A man already serving time at the Spring Creek Correctional Center for attempted murder has been charged with assaulting and attempting to murder a fellow inmate. The alleged assault occurred on Aug. 4, when 47-year-old Mark Spencer attacked a 41-year-old inmate at the correctional center in Seward. The victim was “cut seriously,” according to an […]

  • News

    Man reportedly pulls gun at Anchorage Lowe’s when asked to provide receipt

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 27, 14:05

    A man reportedly pulled a gun at an Anchorage Lowe’s on Black Friday after an employee asked to see the man’s receipt for a power tool. The man walked into the Tudor Road store and grabbed a DeWalt power tool, according to a Lowe’s employee who asked not to be named. At one point, a […]

  • News

    In Anchorage, youth prepare for life after foster care

    by Hope Miller on Nov 27, 13:31

    In less than a month, Jasmine Ratcliff will turn 21 years old. But she says she doesn’t feel the expected excitement about the milestone of a birthday. On. Dec. 23, Ratcliff will be too old to remain in foster care. She’s been in the system since she was a baby, she says, and has lived […]

  • Lifestyle

    Artists plan to rebuild Alaska art display damaged by tides, winds

    by Associated Press on Nov 27, 12:50

    Creators of a public art installation damaged by tides and high winds at an Anchorage beach plan to rebuild the display by the original opening date. Lead project artist Sarah Davies says participants at Point Woronzof have recovered 82 of 85 of the sculptures made of straw, cement, plaster and burlap. She says the official […]

  • News

    Crews respond to structure fire at East Anchorage triplex

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 27, 11:27

    No injuries were reported after the Anchorage Fire Department responded to a fire at a triplex in East Anchorage Friday morning. The only resident home at the time of the fire, Kami Clark, was able to escape unharmed with her toddler and feline companion. “I was just watching TV and a cop knocked on my […]