COVINGTON The school board has approved some new security measures for Newton schools, hoping to prevent incidents that have happened at other schools across the country.
The Newton County Board of Education has approved the purchases of electronic door systems for more schools and carbon monoxide sensors for all schools, as previously recommended by Superintendent Gary Mathews. The board unanimously approved the recommendation during its monthly meeting Tuesday.
Infinity Network Solutions of Macon will install door systems at 15 schools -- East Newton, Fairview, Heard-Mixon, Livingston, Mansfield, Middle Ridge, Oak Hill, Porterdale and West Newton elementary schools; the Newton County Theme School at Ficquett; Clements, Cousins, Indian Creek and Veterans Memorial middle schools; and Eastside High School.
Security systems previously were installed at the other seven schools and will be installed at the replacement Newton High School during construction before it opens next school year. The central office also already uses the system.
The estimated cost of the project is $142,175, which will come from operating funds. It was not previously budgeted but money is available, according to Jan Loomans, director of Operational Services for NCSS.
The cost includes electronic locks on three doors at each school, software to operate the system and 75 keys for each school. The three doors that the system covers will be doors to playgrounds, gyms and faculty parking areas, and schools may add to the system in the future, according to Loomans. NCSS also hopes to add more doors and features like a camera, call button and door release to the system in the future.
"We are trying to provide the most security for the available funds right now," Loomans previously said.
Mathews has said that the locks came out of collaborative talks between central office employees and principals after the elementary school shooting in Connecticut last year.
"We're doing everything feasible to protect our students," Mathews previously said.
In addition to the door locks, all NCSS schools will get carbon monoxide sensors. The school board approved Tuesday the purchase and installation of them from Automated Login Corporation of Kennesaw. The sensors will be linked to the fire and intrusion alarm panel in the front office of each school.
The system will be consistent with the carbon monoxide detector advisory issued by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs in December. Also, there is a piece of state legislation that has been introduced that eventually may require all schools to have carbon monoxide detectors installed, coming after a school in Atlanta recently was evacuated due to an undetected carbon monoxide leak, hospitalizing some students and staff.
The estimated cost of the sensors for NCSS is $97,500, and also will come from operational funds.
Mathews has said that NCSS plans to add more security measures if a SPLOST referendum is approved in March. The system will be able to add a Viewpath S.A.F.E. camera, audio and silent alarm system for every classroom in every school at a cost $3,850,000. It currently is being piloted in 20 classrooms at Newton High School, reportedly improving student behavior and increasing academic rigor.
Loomans said Wednesday that the system plans to have both projects for all schools installed by the end of the summer.
"We will have a gradual roll out," she said. "Our next step is to decide on the order of the installation."