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TMCNet:  Guilford schools security review begins

[February 04, 2013]

Guilford schools security review begins

GREENSBORO, Feb 04, 2013 (News & Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Communication, both internally and externally, is key to improving security for Guilford County Schools, members of a task force said Monday.


The task force, made up of school board members, is charged with finding ways to improve the district's security. It met Monday to begin discussing obstacles in campus security. The Guilford County Board of Education created the group in the wake of school shootings in Newtown, Conn.

"I don't want to give any child an idea that their school is not a safe place," said Nancy Routh, a longtime board member and retired principal. "(When I was a principal), school was a safe place. It was a place they could trust." Recently, the district has focused on inexpensive solutions to security issues -- locking doors, better supervision of visitors and reviewing school security plans with staff and law enforcement agencies.

Further upgrades, such as adding resource officers or installing bulletproof glass and buzz-in systems, have been suggested.

The district spent $2.6 million on 39 resource officers in its middle and high schools last year.

Adding them to elementary schools could cost several million dollars more, school board Chairman Alan Duncan said earlier this month.

The task force identified five areas it will focus on for the security study: --Internal communications -- providing lines of communication between students and staff.

--External communications -- coordinating with law enforcement and the public.

--Mental health -- finding out what services and funding are available for students and staff.

--Buildings -- looking at security issues for each educational building.

--Emergency preparedness -- analyzing each school's emergency plans and working with emergency operations to adjust them where necessary.

Duncan, who started the task force in January, said it has a lot to look at and will take a long time. He scheduled task force meetings at the district offices, 712 N. Eugene St., for 7 p.m. Feb. 11, 18 and 25, with more to come.

"We are cautioning our principals to slow down and take a thoughtful approach to any enhancements that might make a difference," said Nora Carr, board chief of staff. "We need a careful vetting process -- school by school and situation by situation." Duncan cautioned the task force members that each idea they come up with will automatically have a cost attached that would have to be approved by the county.

He also suggested that when ideas solidify, the task force should hold public meetings.

Linda Mozell, a parent who attended Monday's first meeting of the task force, said a major concern of hers is that the security study be thorough.

Contact Joe Gamm at 373-7090 and follow @josephgamm on Twitter.

___ (c)2013 the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) Visit the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) at www.news-record.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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