Would you be more willing to approve a Wake County school bond issue it it included $18.1 million in funding for security upgrades at schools?
As noted in today's article, school facilities staff will present to the school board's facilities committee today a proposal for between $7.1 million and $18.1 million in security measures. It's part of a presentation on items that could be included in the next capital improvement program.
The proposal would fund things such as more surveillance cameras, an electronic door locking system, a centralized electronic visitor sign-in system, an entrance buzzer system for all elementary schools and a centralized public address system.
Read pages 9-11 of this handout for the meeting.
According to Joe Desormeaux, the assistant superintendent for facilities, all the items except the buzzer system have been in the works since before the December school shootings in Connecticut.
The recommendations, which came from school security staff, identify $7.1 million in critical needs.
The critical needs include $4.7 million to ensure every elementary school has at least 16 closed-circuit television video cameras. There would be at least 32 cameras at every middle school and at least 64 cameras at every high school.
All Wake schools now have at least one camera but this proposal would significantly increase the number. All new cameras would run on a network so that security staff could also access the images.
The critical needs also include $1.7 million to begin installing an electronic badge access locking system on exterior doors at schools. Staff would have a badge to unlock these doors.
Some schools already have this access system but priority would go toward giving them to the elementary schools first. Staff says this will allow elementary schools greater ability to lock down schools in emergency situations, control access of staff and visitors in the building and provide secure access to outdoor facilities.
The system would allow central access to closing eight doors at an elementary school, 10 doors at a middle school and 12 doors at a high school.
Another part of the critical needs is $665,215 to install an entrance buzzer system at every elementary school now that they'd all lock their front doors. A person at the school watching a camera would communicate with visitors over an intercom system to unlock the front door to let them in.
If Wake could get more money, the price tag would rise to $10.7 million for "priority needs." This include an extra $2.8 million to upgrade camera systems in middle and high schools to be on the network.
School security staff says greater network access at the middle school and high school level will increase their ability to provide footage for security investigations.
The priority needs includes $854,925 more for the electronic access system so that high schools receive the ability to control staff, student and visitor access by securing all exterior doors throughout the school day. High schools would also receive greater access control for all extracurriculars.
The price tag would go up to $16.1 million in the "reduced needs category." This would include $4.2 million more for the camera systems — raising the total bill to $11.7 million — to fully equip all schools to district standards. This means up to 64 cameras could be installed in middle schools and up to 80 cameras at high schools.
The reduced needs includes $1.2 million more for the electronic door access system, raising the total bill to $3.8 million. It doesn't specifically say where the extra $1.2 million goes but it would likely be at the middle schools so that all schools are up to district standards.
The last category, called complete project needs, has the $18.1 million bill. This includes $1 million for installing a networked public address/intercom system at all schools. This would allow security to perform mass notifications from a central location.
There's also in this category $1 million to ensure all schools are on a networked visitor sign-in system. Some schools have the system now.
This networked sign-in system would tie back to a central location that's supposed to give the security department the ability to limit access at multiple facilities as well as perform analytics and background checks on people trying to visit schools. This is supposed to prevent sex offenders from registering.
If it's in a bond, it's going to take awhile to implement. Desormeaux said that passage of a bond in October 2013 means getting the money from commissioners after the budget is adopted in June 2014. This means implementation of much of the measures won't begin until the fall of 2014.