Western Dubuque, Cascade high schools upgrade security - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Western Dubuque, Cascade high schools upgrade security

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Cascade Junior-Senior High School's new secure front entrance Cascade Junior-Senior High School's new secure front entrance

Two schools in the Western Dubuque Community School District will be a lot safer as students return, thanks to some major upgrades that include new secure main entrances.

At both Western Dubuque High School and Cascade Junior-Senior High School, visitors used to be able to walk right into the building at all hours of the school day. The main office at both schools was around a corner from the entrance and down a short hallway, where administrative staff members couldn't easily monitor who was coming and going.

Now, through an approximately $16 million bond issue, both schools have their main offices located adjacent to the entrance, and visitors during school hours must pass through the office to check in before gaining access to the rest of the building.

"We're in a much better position now," Western Dubuque High School principal Dave Hoeger said Tuesday. "At least we know who's coming into school. Even recent events, you're never going to stop everything, but we do feel much better that at least we've really contained the main entrance of our school. The rest of the doors in the school are locked all the time."

Carrie Koppes and Christy Knepper work as administrative assistants in Cascade Junior-Senior High School's front office. The women have children who attend the school as well. For those reasons, they say, they are thrilled about the security upgrade.

"To have an intruder come in the building, yeah, that would be the worst fear for me," Koppes said. "I couldn't imagine what it would be like. Hope we never have to see that day."

Cascade High School principal Greg Vander Lugt said the security upgrade was much-needed.

"One of our biggest concerns was that there was very little to stop someone from entering our building," Vander Lugt said. "We had signs that said, 'Go to the office,' which is great for most of the parents and things, but an intruder's not going to worry about that kind of stuff."

Cascade Junior-Senior High School has approximately 380 students and 50 district employees. Western Dubuque High School has about 880 students and 90 staff members.

Each school received approximately $8 million for the upgrades, which included more than just security features.

Cascade Junior-Senior High School has a brand-new gym, wrestling room, weight room and music rooms.

Western Dubuque High School has a new auditorium and music rooms.

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