BILLINGS — Three schools within Billings Public Schools have implemented new safety features for building entrances. It’s something that parents say gives them peace of mind.
It takes Joelle Garland a little longer to enter Sandstone Elementary School's double doors in the Heights to surprise her daughter Paisley for lunch, but she said it’s worth it.
“She’s my firstborn. She’s my baby. Anything happens to her, I don’t know what I’d do,” said Garland at Sandstone Elementary on Tuesday.
“We’ve tried to build safety as one of our primary goals, and one of the first things is how many barriers or layers of safety we can make,” said school resource officer Tim Doll.
Parents like Garland must buzz in the front doors to enter, and then they wait behind a second set of locked doors.
“The second set of doors were always just open. People could come and go,” said Sandstone Elementary Principal Travis Lassle.
That’s not the case anymore as Sandstone’s secretary or even the principal himself will greet the visitor. It’s especially important since Sandstone is an open-concept school.
“So what that means is, the majority of our classrooms do not have doors, so having the extra set of doors slows people down coming in,” Lassle said.
The vestibule between the two layers of doors is used for more than just a barrier. Parents can drop off lunch, an extra coat, or anything else their kid might need on a table in the space.
“Other schools have done the same thing, to go as far as Poly Elementary, it has actually built a second entry point. So, they have to go through the first set and be buzzed in and then they get to the second set of doors and have to be buzzed in through there, if they have a need to get in the building,” Doll said.
It cost Poly Drive Elementary about $15,000 to construct its own vestibule this past summer, but to parent Joshua Tolentino, it’s worth the cost.
“What parent doesn’t want to know that their child is really being taken care of. We’re all taxpayers, it makes me feel good about my tax money going towards things like that,” Tolentino said.
Beartooth Elementary has also implemented these safety features. Garland believes it should be the norm everywhere.
“Everyone should be taking it very seriously. It’s not just your life that they need to think about, you have kids. You hear about school shootings all the time, and it makes you wonder if it’s ever going to happen at yours,” Garland said.