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Posted: 07/10/13

RCS approves $281,252
in new security measures

Observer Staff Writer
      The Romeo Community Schools Board of Education has agreed to purchase safety updates for district facilities.
       At a special meeting held June 26, the board voted 4-1 to spend $281,252 from the sinking fund to install keycard doors and buzz-in doors at most of the Romeo school buildings.
       Vice-chairperson Sara Murray was the dissenting vote. Secretary Joe Fortuna and Trustee Gus Demas were not present.
       The safety upgrades include buzz-in entryway doors, video surveillance, electronic locks for doors and a sally port at Indian Hills Elementary. All upgrades are expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.
       The board excluded the upgrades on June 17 when approving summer sinking fund projects, citing reasons such as wanting more information and researching other technologies.
       At the June 26 meeting, the board seemed to sway toward delaying the vote yet again after an initial motion failed with a 3-2 vote, with Murray and Trustee Chris Young dissenting.
       The motion was reconsidered and approved, with Murray casting the only dissenting vote. She said her votes were based on wanting the sinking funds used for different improvements.
       "We have so many other pressing things that need to be taken care of with all of our buildings that I felt the money would be better spent taking care of our aging buildings rather than starting new projects," Murray said.
       Young could not be reached for comment as of print deadline.
       The board also voted 4-1 to increase the safety upgrade budget to $281,252. The original budget was $250,000 but was bumped up to $273,751 before the board approved the new amount. Murray was the dissenting vote.
       Don Gratton, operations and maintenance director, said the first increase reflects bids coming in higher than anticipated. The board-approved increase covers infrastructure meant for future improvements like retina or fingerprint scanners.
       "If the board chooses to upgrade to that, at that time we can convert," he said.
       He said retina or fingerprint scanning equipment would likely cost $100,000 to $200,000 extra.
       Tightening security
       Gratton said buzz-in doors will be installed at all elementary and middle school buildings, allowing staff to identify an individual before they enter.
       Washington Elementary already uses a similar entry system, but it will be updated to match the other buildings.
       Croswell Elementary, Romeo High School and the Administration Building will not have buzz-in doors installed at this time. Gratton said the high school has security personnel to monitor entrances, while Croswell Elementary hosts a variety of programs. The Administration Building doesn't house students, so a different entry system will be considered.
       Gratton said these buildings will be addressed in the second phase of safety upgrades. Recommendations could be in front of the board as soon as July 15.
       "Right now we're in the preliminary stages," he said.
       Gratton said electronic locks will be installed on doors that staff use as entrances and exits, meaning they can open them with a card or fob as opposed to propping them open.
       "The measures we're taking are in line with what safety professionals recommend," he said. "Personally I think it will help."
       Superintendent Nancy Campbell expressed her gratitude for the board's change of heart, saying it allows the district to begin installing the upgrades this summer.
       "I felt there were some big, important decisions that the board made that will really serve us well," Campbell said. "It will give parents and staff confidence that we are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe and secure."
       Safety came to the forefront for school districts after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012 that resulted in 28 deaths.

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Retrieved 7/31/2015 at 9:23:31 AM.
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