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H-PT talks building access

January 19, 2010

HOUGHTON - The Houghton-Portage Township Schools board heard an update Monday from Superintendent Bill Polkinghorne on restricted access to the district's buildings during school hours.

At the middle and junior high building, access will be kept to four of the building's 30 doors: the front entrances to the high school (door 8) and middle school (door 9), in back by the high school principal's office (door 15) and by the superintendent's office (door 17).

"Imagine going into lockdown, we have to send people to 30 different doors," Polkinghorne said. "It's implausible."

Article Photos

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Entrances and exits of the newly remodeled Houghton Middle and High School have new numbers.

The school has also labeled its doors with numbers on the outside and the inside. Polking

horne said the change was made in response to problems in emergency situations such as the 1999 shootings near Littleton, Colo., where students' attempts to communicate their location to police were stymied by police's unfamiliarity with the building.

But the change has also had benefits in day-to-day actions, Polkinghorne said.

"We even hear kids telling parents, 'You'd better pick me up at door 11 instead,'" he said.

Polkinghorne said the number system has also been popular with vendors.

If a door is left open for a certain number of minutes, alerts are sent to principals and maintenance workers, he said.

For athletics, Polkinghorne said, people would use the glassy entrance of the new addition, which leads to both the new and older gyms.

Board Secretary Brad Baltensperger said there would have to be people stationed outside to notify people of the new entrances for the first few people, as well as notices of the expanded parking.

"Otherwise, they'll be parking at the bus garage, they'll be parking at the vacant lot, they'll be parking in the street, they'll be crossing the street, which is exactly what we're trying to avoid," he said.

Polkinghorne said a shop class is building a bridge for a swale over the football field. Additionally, he said, restrooms are being added to the field house.

"No more Port-O-Potties, folks," he said.

In spring, Polkinghorne said, they will look for volunteers to help paint the interior.

In other action, the board:

went into executive session to discuss teacher negotiations. No action was taken at the end of the meeting.

received certificates as part of School Board Recognition Month.

Garrett Neese can be reached at



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