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Wake schools weigh spending more on security

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CARY, N.C. -

The Wake County Public School System could spend $18 million to improve safety at the district's schools.

A school committee presented its proposal Wednesday during a meeting at the school board's headquarters.

Wake County Schools are looking to step up security measures, with some of the upgrades sparked by last year's shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

Wednesday, security staff presented the board's facilities committee the proposal, which includes:

  • $11.7 million for camera systems that include 16 cameras at every elementary school, 30 at every middle school and 60 at every high school
  • $2 million for visitor registration and mass intercom systems in every school
  • $3.8 million for an electronic door locking system
  • $665,000 for an entrance buzzer system at all elementary schools.

Russ Smith, senior director of security for Wake schools, said, "We don't have a level playing field. We have some schools that have cameras, some that don't have cameras."

The initiative discussed Wednesday would set a baseline for the minimum safety features at every school.

Some board members expressed concern over the additional personnel that would be needed to operate the system.

Board member Jim Martin said, "While I think it's a valid idea it may be underfunded."

Meanwhile, board member Tom Benton said it would be critical to make sure that schools have enough trained personnel to make the systems work.

Security cameras and other upgrades could become a bond issue in October. Then the question becomes, will taxpayers foot the bill?

Wake County parent Lori Nicholson said, "You can't put a price tag on the safety of our children. It needs to be a top priority."

Also in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, Wake County has formed a new task force with  Sheriff Donnie Harrison to recommend policy changes for improving school safety. The task force will meet for the first time Thursday night.

 

Charlotte Huffman

An award-winning journalist with an investigative edge, Charlotte has driven legislative change with reports on workplace safety concerns and contaminated groundwater. Contact our Investigative Team anytime HERE. More>>

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