Wake Ed

December 14, 2013

Waiting for Wake County to upgrade security at elementary schools

Wake County school officials don’t have a time table for when they’ll begin installing an entrance buzzer system at all elementary schools.

How at risk are elementary schools in Wake County as they await security upgrades?

As noted in today’s article, there’s $7.5 million set aside for security upgrades such as installing security cameras at all school levels, a card access entry system at elementary schools and a buzzer entry system at elementary schools. It’s just not certain when the upgrades will be installed.

For at least one Wake County parent, the lack of a transition plan is a security concern.

“Parents think security has increased said Stephen Denoy, a Holly Springs parent. “It’s a false sense of security.”

Denoy said he first became concerned about security when he found it was so easy to just walk into his children’s elementary school without checking into the office.

Denoy said he became so concerned that he contacted Russ Smith, Wake’s senior director of security, and school board member Susan Evans. That’s when he said he learned about the security upgrades.

The funding comes from $43.8 million in previously issued county bonds. That was combined with the $939.9 million construction program that was on the Oct. 8 ballot.

Denoy said he was told that funding won’t be available until the summer at the earliest. With more than 100 elementary schools, he worries that it could be a year or more before the upgrades are installed.

The funding from the $810 million school construction bond issue won’t be available until after county commissioners adopt the budget in June. But since the school system already has the $43.8 million, Denoy says school officials shouldn’t have to wait to start work on the upgrades.

Renee McCoy, a Wake schools’ spokeswoman, said the scope of the upgrades will be finalized as staff reviews the recommendations of the school safety task force.

Denoy is suggesting that school PTAs consider raising funds to install the security upgrades on their own. He’s also urging parents to volunteer at schools to handle the check in of visitors, especially at schools that are too short-staffed to do the job.

“If something does happen, people will be kicking themselves in the asses,” Denoy said. “I don’t want to be the person whose kids get hurt.”

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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui.

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