South Bay schools stepping up security: Schools to change doors, add silent alarms

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Dozens of South Bay schools are getting safer. The Chula Vista Elementary School District has announced plans to replace every door at all of its 44 schools so that they can be locked from the inside. 

Right now, a teacher has to step into harm's way in the hallway to lock the doors.

"In a lockdown, you lose precious time by having to go outside the classroom, lock the door from outside and close it," said District spokesman Anthony Millican.

Under the plan, each school office will also be outfitted with a silent alarm – similar to one in a bank – that when pressed will directly notify police a threat is in the office.

"Once that panic button is in place and we have to use it, we know that essentially we are saving lives," said Finney Elementary School Principal Olivia Valerio.

Valerio told 10News Chula Vista schools are already safe. Schools only have one entrance and staff members are in constant communication via two-way radio. The new measures that will cost the district roughly $270,000 are expected to make the schools even safer.

"Those steps give us an added piece of mind," said Valerio.

READ: Letter sent to parents outlining new security procedures (PDF)

Chula Vista police will also play a larger role in the new school security process. Besides the school resource officers assigned to campuses, regular officers will also visit schools while on patrol. It is part of a new "adopt a school" program by Chula Vista police.

"Stop by the parking lot, meet the principal when available," said Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano.

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