Summer Reset: Combinations for Thousands of School Lockers Must Be Changed

July 18, 2014
School security also involves securing students' belongings in lockers

July 09--JANESVILLE, WI -- It's summer, and that means changing the combinations for 8,000 lockers at Janesville middle and high schools.

"There are about 1,000 here at Franklin," Jim Dulin, head of maintenance at Franklin Middle School, said during a break Wednesday. "There are probably about the same amount in each middle school. The high schools have a couple thousand or more in each school."

Maintenance staff go locker by locker to change the combinations for all of them.

Each locker at Franklin has five built-in combinations. Each summer, the lockers are set to the next combination series, meaning the combinations used by students this fall are the same ones used by students in the 2010-11 school year.

Dulin advances each locker to the next combination to keep all of the lockers on the same combination series.

"It could be done in a couple days if I went straight through it," Dulin said. "But I don't do it all day, so it usually takes a couple weeks to get through them all."

"One combination is issued to a locker each year," Dulin said. "If a student moves or leaves school, the locker remains vacant for the remainder of the year. All the locks have to be kept on the same series to avoid confusion."

The combination changes are needed because students switch lockers each year, Dulin said.

"The students move, so it makes sense to have them change lockers," Dulin said. "Kids move around the building by grade level, so they need their locker to be close to their classes."

The combinations are kept online in a shared Google document for each school. Paper copies are on hand, as well, Dulin said.

"The combinations are kept by building," Dulin said. "It's just one of those things we do every summer."

Dulin usually changes the combinations shortly after school is out. He waited until July this year because the lockers at Franklin Middle School were being painted.

Dulin said he checks each locker to make sure everything is working correctly. He replaces defective locks, but that's rare, he said.

"Some locks are original to the building built in 1961," Dulin said. "I ordered 50 locks last year, and we only had to use 25. There is seldom a problem with them."

Dulin said Franklin hasn't had padlocks for years. The built-in locks are just as effective and create less wear and tear on the lockers, he said.

"Theft hasn't been a big problem," Dulin said. "Security cameras were added to the halls in Franklin last year. I'm sure that's helped some. Everything is about student achievement. If they have an electronic device in their locker and are worried that it's not secured, they won't be focused in the classroom."

Dulin said students are still issued padlocks for their physical education lockers. Those locks are collected, shuffled and redistributed each year.

"It's just one of the annual things we do," Dulin said. "The lockers are cleaned every summer, so are the classrooms and the floors.

"It's all part of summer maintenance."

Copyright 2014 - The Janesville Gazette, Wis.