County school board members recently approved spending more than $220,000 from its special purpose local option sales tax account to buy a new video secure access control system for most of Douglas County’s middle and elementary schools.
The school district plans to install the system, supplied by Ackerman Security, by the start of classes following the winter break, said Todd Hindmon, the school system’s executive director of technology.
Under the system, administrators at each school will lock all outside doors after students finish entering the school in the morning. Thereafter during the day, visitors must push a button, stand in front of a camera to be seen by office workers on a computer, and identify themselves in some way before being allowed to enter.
“It’s a straightforward piece of hardware,” Hindmon said. “They [Ackerman] do it at all sorts of businesses.”
The system is not planned for the county’s high schools because their typically multi-building layouts generally are not compatible with something designed for more compact buildings, he said.
Among the schools scheduled to see installation of the system in Dorsett Shoals Elementary in Douglasville.
Principal Kacia Thompson, in her fifth year heading the school’s staff, said the video system will add to the system she and other administrators already use to watch for intruders and other security problems throughout the 434-student school.
A summertime renovation of the school included construction of a security vestibule. Formerly open access points to classrooms on the left and the gymnasium on the right were covered with brick walls and secured doors. Visitors now are forced to enter the front office through a third door before entering the school.
The school also already uses a system of 15 security cameras inside and out to check activities throughout the day, Thompson noted.
“It’s kind of sad we have to do this,” said Thompson, who served as a teacher in Kansas and the Tampa Bay, Fla., area. “[But] it’s a different time. Kids are our No. 1 priority,” she said.
She said parents at a PTA meeting last week cheered when told about the video system.
“”We have to be proactive,” she said. “It’s going to take us being more aware.”