Cumberland Times-News

February 19, 2013

School safety

Garrett County upgrading security


Cumberland Times-News

— Garrett County officials are to be commended for taking immediate steps to upgrade security at county public schools.

The board of education has allocated $260,000 for door security and school bus camera systems in an effort to beef up safety steps for students and school personnel.

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

The new security steps are bing taken in addition to the placement of two school resource officers through Sheriff Rob Corley’s office.

“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,” said board president Cynthia Downton.

School systems throughout the nation have been reassessing their security needs following the Newtown, Conn., mass school shooting. Although Gov. Martin O’Malley has decided to include money for school security in his 2014 budget, Garrett officials have decided to act immediately and not await the eventual arrival of state funding. “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.

“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.”

The Garrett systems will be paid for with money originally earmarked as carryover funds for instructional material. The money will now be used instead on the security improvements and the instructional materials will be purchased in the new fiscal year.

Making the security improvements a priority over the instructional materials is the right decision amid all of the nationwide concerns about school safety.