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Burwell schools maintain tighter security after 'hit list'

Burwell schools maintain tighter security after 'hit list'

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Officials are maintaining tighter security at Burwell schools more than a month after a menacing letter was sent to Burwell police containing an alleged hit list.

On the list, received March 6, were the names of more than a dozen Burwell administrators, teachers and students at the district's junior-senior high school. Nebraska State Patrol Lt. Dennis Leonard said investigators are awaiting laboratory results.

After the school board met March 10, Burwell's elementary and junior-senior high schools were closed for a day before reopening with new security procedures in place.

"The kids have done a really good job adjusting," said the junior-senior high Principal Dave Owen.

There are 152 students in his school and 160 at the elementary school in Burwell, a central Nebraska community of about 1,200 residents.

Now, students must enter through just one door at each school. Faculty members trained by police search the students' coats and bags. At 8:04 a.m., Owen said, his school's student entrance locks and the campus closes. Late students and visitors must enter at the front near the main office.

The older students had been allowed to leave at lunch, Owen said, but they now must stay at school. Bags are checked at the entrance and then must be left in lockers all day.

Superintendent Dan Bird said some students are starting to tire of the routine. At a special board meeting on March 31, student council members asked that students be allowed to take their bags into classrooms. Board members said no.

"They just felt that while that's still an open case, we'll continue (the security)," Owen said.

Every school in the state has a safety plan, Bird said.

"There's a safety plan for fire, for tornadoes, for an intruder in the building," Bird said. "And this is something that happens. We dealt with it the best we can."


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