County schools working to increase security
by Lauren Williams Staff Writer
The Sampson County Board of Education received an update Tuesday morning during its work session on how the school system is utilizing some of its capital outlay funds to complete a variety of projects, many to do with increasing school security.
According to Anthony Vann, executive director of auxiliary services, the capital outlay projects consist of “mostly security items” such as additional cameras and door access controls.
Other non-security-related projects include playground fencing at Hargrove Elementary School, additional fencing at Hobbton Elementary School, vinyl siding at Lakewood High School, Vann noted, adding that installing additional fencing at Midway Middle School and upgrading of the fire alarm system at Union Elementary School are two projects that have already been completed.
Dr. Wesley Johnson, director of digital literacy and accountability, came forward to explain the details and progress of the security projects, sharing with the board that video surveillance has begun at Midway Elementary School and at the Early Childhood Development Center, and door access controls have been installed at Midway Middle School.
The school system has received quotes on two other projects — installing five additional cameras at Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School and installing 16 cameras and a server at Union Intermediate School — shared Johnson, noting that the former quote came to $6,500 and the latter to $27,000.
These quotes came from Carolina Video Security out of Raleigh, he pointed out, acknowledging that the company has done all the school system’s security work in the past with the exception of a few “piece mill jobs.”
Johnson informed the board that he is also in the process of obtaining quotes from Security IP, a local business in Clinton. “We’d like to go local if we can.”
According to Johnson, the school system is waiting on quotes from both businesses for the following projects — installing 18 outside cameras and six door access controls at Hobbton High School, four door access controls and a buzzer for the front entrance at Lakewood High School, six door access controls at Union Elementary School, six door access controls and a buzzer for the front entrance at Union Middle School, and six door access controls at Hargrove Elementary School.
“These are the big projects we’re working on…Hopefully, this will get the schools safer and better for our students,” said Johnson, adding that he anticipates having quotes from Carolina Video Security by the end of the week and will be visiting the schools with Security IP soon so that the local company can also submit quotes.
Following Johnson, Vann shared with the board some other ways the school system is looking at better securing its school facilities.
At Midway Elementary School, the system is looking into building an entrance vestibule where an office would be located and would house an assistant who would have to buzz in visitors in order for them to have access to the rest of the school, explained Vann, showing the board members drawings of the school and the proposed changes.
Similar changes would also be made to Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School, he continued, including constructing a glass enclosure leading to the media center as well as turning the existing conference area at the front of the school into a reception area where, again, a receptionist would have to buzz in visitors in order for them to gain access to the rest of the school.
Interim superintendent Mike Warren shared that he previously discussed these security measures with R-S principal Sheila Peterson and that both she and her staff were excited about the possibilities.
At Union Middle School, which Vann described as a “mirror image of Midway Elementary,” the proposed security changes involve moving the entrance to the left side of the school front due to the cafeteria being located to the right of the current entrance. A reception vestibule would be created across the front of the school, utilizing the existing reception window.
“How much will all this cost?” asked board member Glenn Tart.
“We’re in the pricing phase right now,” Vann replied.
“I’d like to see what it’s all going to cost,” said Tart, pointing out that capital outlay money is meant for emergencies. “I don’t know that we have anything that’s more of an emergency than this right now.”
According to Vann, some schools opted to prioritize additional cameras and door access controls over the security measures that involve construction but the system’s goal is to ultimately make the construction changes and increase security in that way at every facility.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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