District continues to look at school security

Apr. 17, 2014 @ 05:39 PM

Vance County Schools is looking at expanding the security project to include construction of walls in school lobbies.

This would allow schools to have a secure area funneling visitors to the school office before they get access to the rest of the building.

“I think I understand what you all are doing,” board member Dorothy Williams said. “The doors are important, but just to have the doors secured is not enough, so we need to look at the total.”

At the building and grounds committee meeting Thursday, Superintendent Ronald Gregory spoke about enhancing security plans to include construction of walls in school entrances that guide visitors to main offices and limit open entry into schools.

“We don’t have a school that was constructed that limits where you go once you get inside there,” Gregory said.

He proposed extra security at Thursday’s committee meeting, which addressed the debate at Monday night’s school board meeting over security lock bids and re-bidding that has lasted more than a year.

On Monday, the full board agreed to rebid contracts for a second time this year after the building and grounds committee motioned, but failed to get approval, to hear a presentation from N.C. Sound that could move the process for security system installation forward.

The idea stemmed from a state Department of Public Instruction study that examines school facilities and highlights areas of the district could increase security and efficiency measures.

“It’s not like our schools are not secure,” Gregory said. “Middle schools and high schools, we are paying police officers $22.50 along with the security staff we already have at each middle school and high school. The idea almost appears that there is no security at all, which is totally false.”

Gregory suggested the committee wait for a report from the facilities study team as to what should be included in the bids and whether it should broaden the plans to include additional measures.

“We don’t know what they are going to tell us when they come back to this table,” he said.

The facility study started in February is projected for completion next month. Board member Ruth Hartness expressed her concerns over restructuring the buildings and the additional cost that could be associated.

“It’s inevitably going to involve more money,” she said.

Other board members felt that the proposed additions were necessary.

“At some point, the board will have to ask itself — and it doesn’t necessarily mean more money — but what price tag do you put on a student’s life?” board member Emeron Cash said.

Although originally in favor of N.C. Sound’s bid, board member Ed Wilson proposed a letter be sent to bidders N.C. Sound and Access Security explaining the desire to wait on the completed facility study and asking them to rebid.

The board has not had contact with either bidder since receiving their quotes in November 2013.

“I thinks it’s just good business to close this chapter by writing a letter,” Wilson said. “I voted one way, and the board voted another. I am ready to move on with what the board wants to do.”

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.