New MSD Building, Set To Open In August, Ushers In Safety Upgrades At Broward Schools

Jan 17, 2020

When students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High walk into their new building next school year, the school district says they’ll enter a structure that’s setting the new standard for security in Broward County schools.

Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie wouldn’t elaborate on what the new measures were.

“Obviously, because of security reasons, I’m not going to get into specifics about the safety components here,” he said.

An exterior view of the new building under construction at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It will be connected to an existing school building by a tunnel.
Credit Madeline Fox / WLRN

He would say that other new school construction will have the same features, including projects at Cypress Bay, Flanagan and Northeast high schools. He added that other schools have already gotten upgrades that were possible to for existing buildings.

Runcie said schools across the district have seen physical and personnel reinforcements. That includes new perimeter fencing, limiting entry at schools to a single point, and thousands of new surveillance cameras that are accessible to law enforcement in real time. Schools have added armed guardians under the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.

The biggest personnel change, Runcie said, was centralization. Security personnel, including campus monitors and school resource officers, are all under one umbrella, which Runcie said allows for more consistent training and accountability.

At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, the new building – which will replace the site of the February 2018 mass shooting – will also include spaces designed for reflection. Lori Alhadeff, who was elected to represent District 4 on the school board after losing her daughter Alyssa in the shooting, said plans are in the works for a nearby water feature that might incorporate the school’s mascot.

“We want to create a very peaceful, tranquil water feature, with possibly an eagle representing overlooking the safety of this building,” she said. “We want it to be a place where students can go and read a book, or just reflect.”

Alhadeff called the new building “one more step” in allowing the school community to move forward and heal from the Valentine’s Day shooting, which resulted in 17 deaths and 17 people injured.

Runcie said the district is looking forward to August, when it plans to move students into the new building out of the portable classrooms that were set up to house classes formerly held in Building 12.

The older building where the shooting happened remains on campus, though it’s not in use and the school district plans to demolish it. It will stay up until the end of the trial and sentencing for the confessed killer. The trial is scheduled to start this summer.

Runcie said he couldn’t speculate on what will happen to the site of Building 12 after it’s demolished.

“Anything we do on this campus certainly will require a substantial amount of community input and direction,” he said. “We’re looking forward to creating a good experience on this campus.”