Security plans are moving forward for Vance County Schools

Jun. 28, 2013 @ 05:57 PM

One version of a front door security system for Vance County Schools was shown to school board members at Thursday’s called meeting.

The board met primarily for financial purposes to close out the fiscal year 2012-13. It also handled personnel issues on a short agenda, including accepting the resignation of Steven Graham, the system’s finance officer since March 2008.

Graham, who has worked in the school system since 2000, said he has accepted a position with Vance-Granville Community College as vice president of finance and operations, replacing the departing Matt Williams. The college has yet to announce Williams’ exit.

Graham has deep ties to the college. His mother was at the college when it started on Chestnut Street, and Graham earned an associate’s degree from Vance-Granville before going on to N.C. State.

“Education has been in me, and I seemed destined to be in it,” Graham said.

The board approved elevating Robert Newby from assistant finance officer to take Graham’s position. Graham’s last day is July 19. He and Newby each start their new positions on July 22.

Chairwoman Gloria White, Emeron Cash, Ruth Hartness, Dorothy Williams and Ed Wilson were present for the meeting and unanimously passed financial amendments and a budget resolution. The moves were necessary for closeout of the fiscal year ending June 30, and maintaining day-to-day operations beginning July 1 while awaiting a final state budget that determines the system’s revenues.

The school system is also yet to receive specifics from the county commissioners, who passed their budget less than 72 hours earlier.

Following a closed session, the board took two actions, upholding a recommendation for the termination of a custodian and upholding a decision to deny a student transfer.

Claiborne Woods, director of facilities, made a short presentation of a door security system utilizing a monitor and visual screen. Assistant superintendent Brian Creasman said the school system has been gaining information from N.C. Sounds and Security, based out Goldsboro, as it prepares to put front-door security on all of its schools.

An agreement with county commissioners will allocate $50,500 over each of the next four years toward equipping all doors at all schools. Creasman said the goal is to have the front doors secured before the school year begins in August, but he acknowledged crossing hurdles of a bidding process, approvals and installation will be a challenge.

The system goes in place as soon as possible, Creasman said.

“What we understand, they are already doing work with about 50 other school districts in North Carolina, as well as outside the state,” Creasman said. “They held a seminar and they invited all the districts to come there.”

Creasman said the session was informative. The company has not been contracted for any work, but is expected to be among those bidding for the contract.

“They are developing the specs for exactly what the schools need in regards to the system,” Creasman said. “The good thing is, the company provides the specs for free as long as they are allowed to bid.”

A recent tour in Vance County included an elementary, middle and high school.

The security measures stem from events nationally and locally. In Newtown, Conn., in December, a gunman entered an elementary school and killed 26 students and staff. In Henderson in February, students told a packed auditorium at Rollins Elementary they had feelings of being unsafe at their schools.

Superintendent Ronald Gregory soon after began implementation of enhanced security measures at all schools, and the school board signaled to county commissioners security was a primary focus in the new fiscal year budget requests.

Currently in the county, two middle schools and both Southern Vance and Northern Vance have cameras at the front door entrances but no electronic buzz-in capabilities. Clarke Elementary, the newest school in the county, has cameras throughout including at the front door, but also no buzz-in capability.

“We’re doing everything we can to update our security,” Creasman said. “This is something that everybody has to buy into. If you don’t have school security, you can’t have instruction.”

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