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      Sandy Hook shooting inspires school safety campaign

      The Elk Rapids Public Schools district is looking to keep students safe by making some changes to their school security system, but they need the community's help in order to make that happen.

      A $10.9 million bond proposal for the district will be on the November ballots and will go toward multiple things, but school leaders say that student safety is at the top of the list.

      "What really got us looking at it closely was the Sandy Hook really did," said Superintendent Steve Prissel.

      The district has been working with architects and law enforcement agencies to help figure out what all needs to be done to improve security.

      "We feel that Elk Rapids Schools have taken a lot of positive steps, setting up response plans, securing, being able to talk to staff on radios," said Chief Thomas Emerson of the Elk Rapids Police Department. "But one thing we do need to work on though is securing the buildings better at the front entrances."

      If voters approve the bond proposal, each building would add a buzzer system, that Prissel says will help school leaders keep better track of who is coming in and leaving the buildings. They also want to add more security cameras and upgrade the ones they already have.

      While $10.9 million may sound like a lot of money, Prissel says that it is still less than what other area schools already get from taxpayers.

      "Currently we're at 1.48 millage rate which is almost at the bottom as far as regionally and this .83 millage request would take it to up to a 2.31 level which is still dramatically below the state average and well below the regional average," said Prissel. "We feel that it is very responsible as a district. The .83 mills, it actually equates to an $83 increase in tax for the year for someone that has a value, home value, of $200 thousand."

      The $10.9 million will go also toward improving the high school gymnasium, paving parking lots, and athletic field improvements.

      For more information on the bond proposal, click here.