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Schools ready to ante up for security

 

Excess bond funds likely to cover cost for upgrades

 

FRANK TAYLOR

Managing Editor

Lincoln County schools can expect a major security overhaul in the very near future.

Board of Education members meeting in committee Tuesday night advised administrators that they want security improvements to get the highest priority.

With more than $1 million in bond funding for school facilities not earmarked for any other planned project, board members appeared poised to support applying as much of those funds as needed toward the upgrades.

School Information Technology Services Director Steven Hoyle presented a grocery list of proposed improvements he estimated roughly at more than $600,000, including card-operated pass doors, surveillance cameras and upgraded alarm systems.

However, Hoyle said that estimate doesn’t include any cameras for elementary schools, where they have never been used in the past but where concerns about intruders are most heightened following last month’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

Board members toward Hoyle they want to include cameras at elementaries in the upgrades.

Hoyle and schools Facilities Director Darrell Gettys plan to conduct walkthroughs at campuses over the next few days and then begin making firmer estimates about what’s needed at each school and what it will cost. One item they will examine is the practicality of adding security vestibules to many of the entrances.

Board members were so concerned about the urgency of the issue that they were prepared to call an emergency session for later in the week, but ultimately they recognized that allocating the bond funding during their already scheduled Feb. 12 meeting will allow fixes to go forward without delay.

Board members also noted that Parent Teacher Organizations at several schools have said they are ready to participate in fundraising if necessary to support the security upgrades. Although that may not be necessary with the bond funding available, board members discussed allowing those parents to be part of the process and potentially supplement measures that the schools take.

Hoyle estimated the entire process might take about a month and a half to complete if everything goes well, with some measures being easier to implement more quickly.

In other action during Tuesday’s committee meetings:

  • Board members sought additional revisions to a proposed policy for recruiting a new schools attorney. They noted that the board incurred significant expense under the tenure of the previous attorney because he was not a specialist in education law, an area in which members agreed they would seek a person with expertise. They are also open to working with multiple attorneys for various areas of counsel and plan to word the recruitment policy accordingly.
  • The board worked on a new policy for purchases to ensure that records of bids and procedures are kept in a consistent matter. They also discussed waiving the requirement that project bids be advertised in the newspaper.
  • Board members also examined some cost overruns for which they will seek budgetary adjustments due to issues beyond their control, including an increase in utility rates and a change in the way the state compensates the schools for unemployment insurance costs.

 

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