District considers safety with new auditorium

By Kari Williams

The Mehlville School District is taking student and community safety into consideration while constructing its $6 million auditorium.

Superintendent Eric Knost told the board last week that Director of Facilities Steve Habeck is investigating installing a mechanism that will lock multiple interior auditorium doors with one key.

“Post-Sandy Hook, we just think differently,” Knost told the board, referencing the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six adults dead. “We had to be reactive, but in a sense it’s a chance to be pro-active as a reaction to what happened.”

Though Knost said he does not know how much it will cost, he does not expect it to be a significant amount of money.

Habeck said most of the doors originally were expected to be electronically controlled, but the mechanism would control multiple locks.

“What we’re going to do is from the stage as you leave there’s egress on the left and right aisles and either one of those sides is going to have a three-way tumbler switch and you can hit that switch and it’ll lock six doors at one time …,” Habeck said.

Knost said he would rather consider adding the locks now than in the future.

“We’re not talking about adding a room or anything like that. It’s just some things that make sense while we’re building (the auditorium) and the way we think now,” he said.

The board approved Wright Construction as the contractor for the auditorium in October. Work began in late October with completion anticipated in roughly one year.

Chief Finance Officer Noel Knobloch said there have been “no significant change orders” since the project began.