Cumberland Times-News

February 16, 2013

Garrett schools due extra security

For the Cumberland Times-News
Cumberland Times-News

— OAKLAND — In response to concerns expressed by students, staff, parents and community members in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting, the Garrett County Board of Education has reprioritized some of its fiscal 2012 carryover funds to provide for extra security, according to a news release.

Every public school building will have door entry access control systems and video intercom systems, bus camera surveillance and archive GPS systems.

“Bus cameras have been proven to reduce acting out behaviors on buses, allowing students to experience a safer, more enjoyable ride to and from school,” stated board president Cynthia Downton.

The estimated cost of the door security and bus camera systems is $260,000, according to Superintendent of Schools Janet Wilson.

“I am thankful for the board’s support,” said Wilson. “The time to do this is now and the board is doing the right thing for our school communities. Installation of the door entry systems will be the first priority and will begin as soon as contracts are completed.”

The board appreciates the county commissioners’ support to provide two school resource officers through Sheriff Rob Corley’s office but believes that on-site door access control systems must be put into place immediately.

“When it comes to the safety of our children, waiting for someone else to make a decision is not a viable option,” said board member Rodney Reckart.

Board member Tom Carr echoed Reckart’s sentiments.

“We need to have technology work for us — when we can neither afford nor depend on human security always to be in the right place at the right time when some unfortunate event is about to happen,” said Carr.  

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget includes money for school security, but detailed information regarding the timing or intent of those funds is not readily known at this time, according to the news release.

“We place student safety and staff security topmost on our list of how to best serve our students and  community,” said Downton. “We have learned hard lessons from other schools, such as, a matter of 10 to 12 seconds can make a huge difference in the number of survivors of a random act of violence.  Our students need to know that while they are in our schools, their main focus should be on learning, and not worrying about whether or not they are safe.”

Having originally earmarked a majority of the carryover funds for instructional materials, the board now plans to place that request in its fiscal 2014 budget.