US schools look to guards, technology a year after Sandy Hook

US schools look to guards, technology a year after Sandy Hook
A memorial honoring the victims killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is seen outside a home in Sandy Hook, Connecticut December 10, 2013. The Connecticut town of Newtown on Monday asked for privacy and a restrained media presence ahead of the anniversary of the shooting that killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

MILWAUKEE/WASHINGTON - A year after a gunman massacred 26 first-graders and adults in a Connecticut elementary school, educational officials across the United States continue to face the longstanding question of how to best protect their students.

Principals and administrators across the country in many cases are choosing between technologies such as electronically controlled doors and the addition of security staff.

For one district, the Richmond School District outside Milwaukee, that has meant spending $24,000 to protect its one building with buzzer-entry doors and better lighting but choosing to skip bullet-proof glass.

"Our goal was to delay or deter intruders until the police could respond. Bullet-proof glass didn't fit that criteria for us," Superintendent Jeff Weiss said in an interview.

The school opted for stronger door frames and made improvements to lighting in its parking lot. The school also placed metal security screens over windows and doors so if the glass is broken, an intruder is still kept out.

The district joined hundreds in the United States that in the last year have wrestled with how to prevent a shooting.

The solution has been a mix: more and better-trained guards, and billions of dollars of security technology.

Schools are aiming to stop gun scares and killings, such as the shooting deaths of three students at an Ohio high school in February 2012, the wounding of two students at a California high school in January 2013 and a potential mass shooting at a Georgia elementary school in August that was averted when a school bookkeeper talked the gunman into laying down his AK-47 assault rifle.

The number of school resource officers or law enforcement officers assigned to schools has risen to levels not seen since the aftermath of the 1999 Columbine High School "massacre" in Colorado, in which 13 people were shot to death, said Maurice Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers.

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