Grants to fund security system

Published 9:02 pm Friday, October 26, 2018

Suffolk Public Schools received $22,430 to implement a visitor management system at 11 schools in the division.

The money was awarded on Oct. 4 by Gov. Ralph Northam, and the systems will be installed at Creekside, Elephant’s Fork, Hillpoint, Kilby Shores, Mack Benn Jr. and Nansemond Parkway elementary schools, Forest Glen, John F. Kennedy, John Yeates and King’s Fork middle schools and Nansemond River High School.

“Suffolk Public Schools requested funding for all of our schools to add a visitor management system. Such a system would provide real-time sex-offender screenings and possible custody alerts for all visitors. In emergencies, it would accurately reflect what visitors are in the building,” spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said in an email.

Email newsletter signup

Their current volunteer management program Volunteer Connect already provides sex-offender and child abuse screenings to any registered volunteers, and those screenings are done every 12 months. But the new system would provide the real-time screening on the spot for all visitors.

The system costs approximately $2,000 per school, and Suffolk Public Schools will utilize money from the 2018-2109 budget to provide the sytem in the remainder of the schools. The money is from unfilled staff positions.

The system will allow the schools to better track who comes into the schools and they can monitor the system in real time.

“The visitor management system allows us to better track who is entering our school and what time they exit. It places their photo on the visitor badge, and it runs a quick background check on each visitor,” Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney said in an email. “We can also get alerts if someone is not supposed to pick up a student. We will even be able to go back in time to track someone to determine if and when they were in the building.”

The system will not be implemented right away, but the division will work to implement them as soon as possible.

“The system will be implemented as soon as possible. Procurement policies must be followed, and once the system is ordered, there will need to be equipment installation and staff training,” Whitney said.

More than $6 million was awarded in the School Security Equipment Grants to 102 school divisions as well as the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.

The grants are being used for video monitoring systems, metal detectors, classroom locks, electronic-access controls, visitor-identification systems, direct communications links between schools and law enforcement agencies, and other security upgrades in 443 schools and other instructional facilities.

The grants were awarded based on those schools that were deemed most in need of modern security equipment, schools with a high number of offenses, schools with equipment needs identified by a school security audit and schools in divisions least able to afford security upgrades.