Sunset Avenue School improves security for students, staff

By: By Chase Jordan -

Inside the office of Sunset Avenue School, Principal Antoine McGill watched data download on a small kiosk. To provide more safety for the students, he hopes it’s up and running by next week.

Thanks to a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s Home Improvement through its Toolbox For Education program, the school is upgrading the security by adding LobbyGuard, a visitor management system.

“Our building is relatively big and we have multiple access points,” he said. “Once people are signed in, we kind of lose control of where they are. This gives us better control of always knowing who’s in the building and where they’re supposed to be going.”

The purpose is to keep a better record of visitors in the building by replacing the basic name tag sign-in system used at the front office. As a replacement, LobbyGuard will print out a name tag, with the visitors’ pictures on the front.

“Not only does it provide security for our front office, but it provides building security,” he said about the new device. “At anytime, we’ll be able to control who’s in the building.”

Visitors will be required to scan their driver’s license so the system can run the information to verify that they’re not on any national sex offender lists. If someone is on the list, McGill will be notified and the system will not print a tag for the individual. Later, the individual will be notified that they were on the list.

“If they’re on a national sex offenders database, then they’re not supposed to be within a certain distance of any school,” he said.

Prior to receiving LobbyGuard, McGill said he’s notified by email by the sex offenders database if anyone lives near the school. An email with the offender’s picture is sent to the staff for precaution.

Also, it will allow them to monitor custody management issues with parents or guardians, which are already on file. Visitors breaking custody rules will be notified as well.

“Again, we’re able to have that conversation with the individual before they ever leave the front office,” he said.

The arrival of the LobbyGuard team was a result of actions taken by the school improvement team and ideas to make the Sunset Avenue better.

“I’ve seen the system work in other districts and other schools,” McGill said about exploring the system, which is in the process of being setup.

Parents from Sunset Avenue will be notified soon about expectations of the system. If there are kinks or if people are having problems, McGill said assistance will be provided to help visitors.

“I think after they do it a couple of times, they’ll be familiar with it,” he said. “I think it will actually speed up our check-in process.”

Faith Jackson, community liaison and grant writer for Clinton City Schools, added that school safety is vital for students and patrons.

“Students and guardians will have an added sense of security with the new system in place,” she said regarding LobbyGuard, which was made possible through the grant funding.

Jackson said partnerships with companies such as Lowe’s are vital to continue to gain access to resource for students and schools. She commended Lowe’s officials, such as local manager Russell Clark, for being involved in the process.

“Large and small companies do not know what schools, teacher, students need unless we tell them,” Jackson said. “Companies that have grant opportunities are asking us to tell them what we need, because they want to help.”

Throughout the year, Jackson encourages educators to seek grants since school resources are sometimes limited with budgets. It’s something that McGill encourages as well.

“We still want to be able to provide those resources and support for teachers that we need,” McGill said. “There’s a lot of community organizations that are just waiting to donate money to a cause. Writing a grant is a simple way of putting our needs out there.”

Superintendent Dr. Stuart Blount applauded local schools for seeking grants and Sunset Avenue for focusing on safety. He believes it will provide a safe learning environment for students and employees at Sunset.

“As we continue to try to make sure our school sites are conducive to learning, safety is a component of that,” Blount said. “To have a check-in system that will aid in that is very reassuring.”

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Sunset Avenue School upgrades security system

By Chase Jordan

Antoine McGill, principal of Sunset Avenue School, observes a new system to check in visitors. McGill, principal of Sunset Avenue School, observes a new system to check in visitors.

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.