By David Fleet
Goodrich-It’s costly but security at area schools could soon be must tighter.
Funding for school security upgrades are at stake this school year, as districts statewide vie for grants made available after the state Senate voted unanimously to provide more than $18.6 million to schools to upgrade security systems in their buildings and classrooms.
The bulk of the money will go to grants with a deadline of Sept. 13.
District Superintendent Ryan Relken along with a team of administrators opted for seven safety enhancements for the buildings totaling more than $500,000. The maximum awarded from the Michigan State Police School Safety Grant will be $250,000 per district. The safety enhancements which range from bullet-proofing glass to building barriers to security cameras will step up protection for all four buildings, staff and more than 2,100 students. While there is debate over a school liaison officer in the district, the grant money cannot be used for that purpose.
“We looked at ways of communication in an emergency situation,” said Relken. “Today everybody has a cell phone so there’s an application where all our emergency planning, procedures and routines, contacts for students and staff will be available. In an emergency information is crucial. The way our district is situated, letting parents know the kids are OK is huge.”
Transportation was also a concern, added Relken.
“It’s time for cameras in the school bus,” he said. “Both real time and recorded. We can also communicate traffic conditions if necessary. Due to our geographic size some of these buses go a pretty good distance each day. It’s a protection too for our bus drivers and I also think that some of these (safety items) will lower our insurance costs.”
The proposed safety upgrades included in the SAFE grant:
nCrossTown Wireless-Intercoms: To control access to all visitors while providing a way to communicate in real time, with all offices, simultaneously. The intercom system supports the district’s comprehensive safety plan by adding 39 door stations.
nPrePlan Live-Emergency Response, 3D Scanning, software, data platform. The current emergency response materials are presented in a binder/folder format. The PrePlan Live improves the comprehensive safety plan by putting vital infrastructure and combining it with real-time play-by-play of events to drastically improve communication and how first responders get their information, allowing them to potentially respond more accurately and save lives, all in one platform.
nCrossTown Wireless: Card access, fobs, and interface with camera system and fire doors. One component of a safe school environment is to have a consistent way to limit access to facilities to only the people who belong there. Currently the district is unable to consistently monitor whether doors are propped open. The strategy is to tie door access and monitoring with lockdown procedures to control on a daily basis, as well as during an emergency.
n24/7 Security-Bus cameras. With ratios of what could be one adult to 74 students, the need for camera documentation is to ensure overall safety. Up to four cameras will be installed on all busses currently being used for district transportation of students and will provide a digital account of all activities within the bus as well as traffic conditions.
nBollards/Structural deterrents at Reid and Oaktree elementary: Bollards are concrete posts spaced four feet apart to allow students and staff to access vehicles while preventing vehicles beyond the designated safe zones at our student pickup and drop zones. The goal is to provide both physical and visual deterrents in order to prevent any student or staff members from being harmed by a vehicle.
nCross Town Wireless-Cameras: In 2009, Goodrich Area School voters approved a bond which provided the initial funding to install a camera system thought the district. The district will add 20 exterior cameras, 20 interior cameras, four servers to increase digital storage capacity of video, and one monitoring station at the main office at each building.
nW4 Signs-bullet proof film by 3M: The project would be the initial step in a long-term process to cover all window glass in the district with bullet proof 3M film.