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BEST 9K Locks Offer One Brass Key for Topline Safety at Valley View Schools

“Our interior doors allowed any staff member in the building with a BEST key to lock down a BEST door from the inside.”

– Mike Singleton, Grounds Lead, Maintenance Department, Valley View School District 365U, Chicago, Illinois


Mike Singleton, Grounds Lead in the Maintenance Department for Valley View School District 365U in suburban Chicago, was in his role for about four months when the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred in 2012. The tragedy prompted him to better understand what safety solutions were in place in his district and what could be improved.

Singleton’s main concern was enabling teachers to lock their rooms without going into the hallway and potentially exposing themselves and their classes to danger.

“Honestly, at that time, keys, locks, and door hardware were just a small part of my job,” said Singleton. “After Sandy Hook, I wanted to help us be as proactive as possible to create safe spaces for the kids and staff in our district.”


Singleton conducted a robust audit of all the locks in use – no small undertaking in a district with 23 buildings, 18,000 students, and over 2,400 staff. Valley View School District 365U includes students from Bolingbrook and Romeoville, as well as parts of Plainfield, Lockport and Downers Grove, Illinois.

“In Bollingbrook High School alone, we have over 1,000 doors,” said Singleton. “What I discovered was that we were light years ahead of our neighboring districts. I also learned that we didn’t know the full power of the tools we already had in place.”

School teacher

Solution – BEST 9K Series with Intruder Function

Singleton discovered that the doors in the Valley View School District were equipped with the BEST 9K Series with Intruder Function. With one brass key, teachers could easily lock down their classrooms from the inside.


The BEST 9K Series with Intruder Protection features a visual indicator on the inside that shows which way to turn the key to ensure a door is securely locked. This simple, yet significant marker, can make a big difference during the intensity of a school lockdown or shelter-in-place order.

“What we didn’t realize was that all of our interior doors allowed any staff member in the building with a BEST key to lock down a BEST door from the inside,” said Singleton. “Exterior locks still require specific keys, but our staff can secure any open room with a BEST lock from the inside.”

Singleton credits previous school professionals in his role for having the foresight to invest in the BEST 9K Series. His goal became to learn all he could about the locks, then train both his team and building staff on how to access top-level protection with the turn of a key.

During maintenance team training, Singleton used a demo lock and keys to show exactly how the 9K works to create a safe space during a lockdown. And after demonstrating the lock’s capabilities, he sent the team to train at dormakaba. 

“Our in-house team includes locksmiths,” said Singleton. “We’ve studied exploded drawings so we could build the locks ourselves as part of our normal maintenance procedures. All the parts are always available, and we keep a stockpile in inventory.”

Valley View’s locksmith team keeps five-to-six spare parts on their trucks at all times. According to Singleton, they can typically swap out parts in about five minutes to prevent any interruptions to instructional time in the classroom. 

“dormakaba has been a good partner for us,” said Singleton. “I’ve been pleased and honored to talk to their product developers and sales reps about new ideas and prototypes. We’re a large district and come up with some different problems. They’re always interested in what we have to say and are available to help.”

Security at Valley View School District 365U continues to evolve, including the potential addition of keyless access using electronic solutions.

“We won’t lose keys entirely,” said Singleton. “But we’re always adding new solutions to our strong foundation to keep students and staff safe.”

A Smart, Fast Lockdown Solution

Mechanical locks like the BEST 9K Series form an integral part of any comprehensive access control strategy, while the addition of the 9K Intruder Function delivers a smart, fast and cost-effective lockdown solution to meet the ongoing demands in school security.

Benefits of the BEST 9K Series with Intruder Function include:

Increased Security

Faculty can lock the door quickly and securely from the inside without going outside the classroom.

Simple to Use

Visual indicator ensures that anyone can lock the door quickly and correctly.


Tested to over four million cycles, which exceeds ANSI Grade 1 standards for cylindrical lock usage and abusive locked lever torque.

Easy to Maintain

Lever return springs provide resistance to lever sag, which ensures that the lever assembly will not need to be reset or replaced once installed. Lever return springs are also protected inside the die-cast hub to minimize maintenance.

Easy to Install

Pre-assembled hub design allows for five-step installation, greatly reducing complexity and saving time.

Quick Rekeying

BEST interchangeable cores allow for customized masterkeying and quick key changes.

Learn More about the 9K Series

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