CWG Architecture was chosen to assist the Helena School District in planning, designing, and coordinating a much-needed safety and security upgrade for Helena’s K-8 schools. CWG’s goal was to cut down on emergency response time, monitor public access, and integrate a 21st century security network system across the entire K-8 district to have every school function and operate at the highest safety standards. The Helena School District is dealing with aging infrastructure and facilities, with the average building being 69 years old. These original buildings were not designed with modern security concerns in mind, so the CWG team had to get creative with how to retrofit these buildings to include up to date technology so they would safely serve the community for decades to come.
The project was completed at the end of the summer of 2020, just prior to the start of the school year. Each individual school building had safety priorities assessed to determine any special security issues that were present. As a result, many of the school’s main entries were reconfigured to limit and even restrict secondary access points to better control building accessibility. By addressing each building’s needs individually, it helps ensure that the 5,000 K-8 students who currently attend these schools will be equally as safe at each location. Some of the upgrades include the schools being able to lock all their doors at the push of a button, instant communication between the superintendent, schools, law enforcement, and parents, a keyless entry system that uses faculty badges to access school buildings, and electronic reader boards for instant messaging. For future planning, it was important that any of the technology or security system improvements could be moved if the school is renovated or replaced with a new building.