BERKELEY -- School officials here are estimating a half-million dollars for new school safety measures, including classroom door locks, pending a report from two consultants who will analyze needs for all 20 schools.
The district decided to beef up security after the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six adults died.
The school board Wednesday night approved contracts worth $70,000 for Edu-Safe Associates and Dimensions Unlimited.
Susan Craig, director of student services at Berkeley Unified, emphasized the $500,000 is only an estimate and it could be lower or higher, "but we are emphasizing safety."
Edu-Safe will focus on threats from dangerous individuals such as a shooter, and Dimensions Unlimited will focus on disaster preparedness, such as in a catastrophic earthquake or chemical spill, Craig said.
Edu-Safe is run by Albert Bahn, a former Napa police officer, private detective and teacher, according to his website. Bahn consulted with the district on new safety measures for Berkeley High in 2011 after there were several incidents of students bringing guns to school that year. Bahn did not return a call seeking comment.
Some of the money the district expects to spend could come from the $1.5 million sale of Hillside Elementary school in the Berkeley hills.
"Both of the contractors will be visiting all our sites including 11 elementary schools, three
District spokesman Mark Coplan said officials also are monitoring what other school districts across the nation plan to do.
"Some of the things like door locks that people are talking about are obvious," Coplan said. "But for everyone to try to fix things locally and come up with their own ideas is not a good idea. Some things can make teachers feel safer, but what is the real safety benefit?"
Craig said she expects at some point to hear from the U.S. Department of Education, the White House and the California Department of Education on what measures they suggest local school districts take to reduce harm from school shootings.
The Berkeley Fire Department and Police Department also will provide input, Craig said.
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.