New 6-foot fencing around playgrounds and walk-through metal detectors in high schools soon could be coming to Charleston County schools.
School leaders presented Wednesday $2.1 million in proposed new expenses to boost security measures in schools for 2013-14 and beyond.
“It’s not like we missed something or this is some great big new thing,” said Jeff Scott, the district’s director of security and emergency management. “This is just a piece of all the things we’ve done with the board’s support over the past years ... to have tremendous success in making schools safer.”
On the heels of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., Charleston officials began reviewing schools’ existing safety procedures and measures.
“I didn’t sleep in January or February because of the weight of everything that happened and to make sure we got it right,” Scott said.
None of the district’s response plans needed significant adjustments, so these new expenses are the remaining needs, he said. The biggest expense is $900,000 in new fencing to enclose playgrounds at 37 schools. Six-foot fencing is the new standard to deter criminals and give police more response time, Scott said.
Another expense would be giving at least one metal detector for every high school. The devices wouldn’t be used to screen every student who entered; they would be randomly placed outside classrooms during the day, and those students would be asked to go through it.
Screening fewer kids more often creates a buzz on campus and discourages students from carrying weapons, Scott said. Those would cost $40,000.
“It’s another tool to speed up the process and not be as intrusive,” Scott said.
Other additional security measures were presented, such as more radios for schools and two new employees to train school staff.
The school board will decide whether to fund these items. Board member Tom Ducker said it’s difficult to say what the board will do until it sees a comprehensive list of building- and equipment-related needs.
“Security, in my eyes, is going to have to be up at the top of the list, but whether we can do it all in one year, I don’t know,” he said.
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