By Marissa Perlman

WINTERS (CBS13) – Students are welcomed back to Winters schools on Monday for the new school year. With it comes a lot of change, including getting rid of 1950’s style construction.

Students will see new buildings with new construction and security changes that are not immediately noticeable. District Superintendent Dr. Todd Cutler says the school district is in the midst of sweeping security changes.

“Before teachers would have to lock their door they would have to use their key outside, so they would have to go out if there was something going on. Now, they simply walk over, put a key in the door, and it locks right there,” Cutler said.

The $52 million project includes a safe-lock gate and door system and an intercom overhaul. If there is an emergency inside a classroom, Cutler says technology changes make it easier for teachers to communicate directly with the district office simply by picking up the phone or pushing a button.

Cutler says this is the new standard for being able to communicate in case of an emergency.

“If we lock down the school, a picture of all the classrooms will come up on the screen and as they hit a button to say ‘we’re safe and secure’ their classroom will go off the screen,” Cutler said.

The process for the project started in 2015. Cutler said it didn’t take much to get district parents on board to support the expense.

“Building Schools is very expensive. We’ve had to go back out to the community, to tell them we need more to really provide state of the art facilities to our district,” Cutler said.

CBS13 spoke with the project engineer building the new intercom and technology system. He says he’s installed similar systems in 40 school districts across the area. His business, Quality Sound, based out of Stockton has increased more than 40% over the past five years.

He says that’s because of the increase in school shootings and overall violence.

Parents we spoke with say this is the new normal.

“They’re selling backpacks now that are bulletproof, is that not terrifying?” Jack Burrall said.

“It’s definitely something that we’re all thinking about because it’s getting worse and worse,” said John Lorenzo.

They say these upgrades are what’s necessary to protect kids.

“If you’re going to build new, you might as well include the things you need to keep them safe on the property,” said Burrall.

The project is being rolled out on campus in three different phases with the full security system in place by 2022.

Marissa Perlman

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