The Douglas County School System is looking at upgrading security at all elementary and middle schools in the county.
Dudley Spruill, chief operations officer for DCSS, talked about the video secure access system that would be installed at all 20 elementary schools and eight middle schools at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
The system would be installed by Ackerman Security Systems at a cost of $220,875, and should be in place by the end of the first semester if the school board gives its approval at its Sept. 3 meeting, Spruill said.
The system will allow each school to lock all doors and force non-staff members to come through one main door, which can be monitored by office staff at the school.
Video cameras would be installed above the designated access door so office staff could see who is at the door. A buzzer would be installed next to the access door that parents and others looking to enter the school would press to contact office staff. And office staff could see and speak to the person at the door and would have the option of remotely unlocking the door if they want to let the person in.
Staff members would still be able to access locked doors with their I.D. badge.
“It’s about a continuing effort to see how we can make our schools safe for our staff and our kids,” BOE Chair Janet Kelley said. “It’s an ongoing effort in evaluating things.”
Superintendent Dr. Gordon Pritz held a safety forum last January at New Manchester High School in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut. A committee, headed by Todd Hindmon, chief technology officer for DCSS, worked over the course of past several months to come up with solutions to make local schools safer, including the one Spruill presented Monday night.
Previously, elementary schools had all doors locked except one near the main office. Spruill said during certain busy times at a school, administrators would have the option of bypassing the tighter security and unlocking doors.
Some middle schools have had more than one door unlocked in the past, especially schools with mobile classrooms requiring access from different parts of the building.
Spruill said the new system won’t necessarily change that, but it will give administrators at schools the ability to lock all doors and force visitors to come through the one door monitored by the video secure access system.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the board unanimously approved an agreement with 360 Degree Customer Inc. for Kelly Robinson to provide speech language services at Bill Arp Elementary 2.5 days a week for an estimated cost of $44,000.
The board also unanimously adopted a concussion management policy as a result of the “Return to Play Act,” passed by the General Assembly earlier this year.
The policy adopted by the BOE was drafted by guidelines provided by the Georgia School Boards Association. According to the policy, parents of student athletes will be provided an information sheet on the risks of concussions, and athletes suspected of having a concussion will be examined by a health care provider and will not be permitted to return to play until the they get clearance from their health care provider.