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The school board plans to use $250,000 of its fund balance to begin replacing interior classroom door locks as part of ongoing safety and security initiatives.

Superintendent Michael Martirano said he will request that the county commissioners chip in a matching $250,000 so that classroom locks in all St. Mary’s public schools can be replaced with ones that are able to be locked from the classroom side.

Currently, as is the case in many other school jurisdictions, the classrooms can only be locked with a key from the hallway side of the door, school officials said. That could increase the danger to teachers and students in the event of a shooter in a school or other incident as teachers would be forced to go into the hallway to turn the locks.

The board approved moving the money from its fund balance at its Wednesday meeting along with several other categorical transfers, all of which must be approved by the county commissioners.

Martirano said he is looking to the state for additional money that could be used for safety and security upgrades. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) recently proposed spending $25 million through school construction funding to go to security initiatives in schools throughout the state.

The school board met Wednesday evening at Chopticon High School to honor the school’s marching band, which this school year won a state competition and was invited to perform at a Pearl Harbor ceremony in Hawaii, where the band was awarded top performer.

Mechanicsville Elementary to get new entrance

Work will continue at Mechanicsville Elementary School this year, including creating a new access road from behind the school on Old Village Road, building a new bus loop and parking lots and other site improvements, now that the school board Wednesday approved a construction contract.

The board approved a $976,000 contract to Dennis Anderson Construction Corp., the lowest bid from among seven bidders.

Work will begin over spring break, especially on the Old Village Road side of the school, Larry Hartwick, supervisor of design and construction, told the school board Wednesday. The exterior improvements are scheduled to be completed by the end of this summer.

The base bid allowed for the inclusion of alternate add-ons for a new electronic monument sign, an aluminum canopy, and LED parking lot lights for a total value of $100,000. The board also approved a $200,000 contingency.

“We will move the bus traffic as well as the parent traffic to really a much safer situation for all involved,” board member Cathy Allen said. The school’s nine buses as well as parents dropping off and picking up students will enter from Old Village Road once the work is complete.

The entire exterior improvement project at Mechanicsville Elementary is budgeted at about $1.7 million, including the site work, new playground equipment and contingency dollars.

jyeatman@somdnews.com