‘An added layer of protection’: Bulletproof glass project continues at Milford schools

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox

MILFORD — Intruders in Milford public schools will find themselves trapped in a locked, bulletproof enclosure under a long-term security update that the city is funding.

In an effort to provide the highest safety measures possible, front entrances made of bulletproof glass are being built in all schools. The ongoing project, which is expected to be completed in two to three years, came about after the Sandy Hook shooting.

“We know from these tragedies that we can’t be 100 percent sure that we can stop somebody from trying. But the whole purpose is to delay that person from getting into the school building so there’s time for first responders to get there and hopefully mitigate the effect that that person can do in a school,” Milford Public Schools Chief Operations Officer James Richetelli said. “It’s to slow them down. They’re not going to shoot through the bulletproof glass. They’re not going to gain entrance easily.”

Two years ago, West Shore Middle School was the first school got the security upgrade. Over the summer, five more schools followed: Harborside Middle School, Meadowside and Orchard Hills Elementary Schools, The Academy and Jonathan Law High School.

The next five schools to get the security upgrades are Joseph A. Foran High, East Shore, Orange Avenue, John F. Kennedy, and Mathewson Elementary.

“The design has been done and we should be going out to bid on those projects in January or February,” Richetelli said. “All of the plans right now are in the hands of the state and we expect approval within the next month.”

For the previous five schools, the bids went out in February, and construction began in early fall. The work takes between four months and six months, he said. Cost is about $600,000 per school.

The project is being encouraged by the state, according to Richetelli.

“After the state came up with infrastructure standards, they said that schools were not required to make these changes to their school infrastructure, but it was recommended.”

The type of entranceways being built used to be called a man trap, according to Richetelli.

“If somebody came into the school, they would be in a secured vestibule and wouldn’t have access directly to the school,” he said.

According to Richetelli, protective measures have been taken so that even a car would have a tough time driving through the front doors.

“Everything is reinforced,” he said. “It’s just an added layer of protection.”

Before the project began, Foran and Jonathan Law were the only schools with a secure entry.

“It was the front door and then you were inside the building,” Richitelli said.

The project is not expected to interfere with learning.

“We’re planning the bulk of the construction during the summer months when they’re not in,” he said. “Even when summer school and camps are being held at the school, there are alternate entrances and exists that the students can use if they can’t use the front door.”

By the summer of 2022, all Milford public schools will have had their entry security upgraded, Richitelli said.

“It’s good for the city to spread the money out so they’re not bonding a huge amount of money in one year,” he said.