Wake County Schools

Plan would put high-tech security measures in all Wake schools

Posted March 12, 2013 4:43 p.m. EDT
Updated March 12, 2013 7:41 p.m. EDT

— High-tech security measures could be coming soon to schools across Wake County. The public school system's facilities committee meets Wednesday to discuss a proposal that would put camera systems and access-control measures in each of the district's 169 schools.

Russ Smith, the school system's senior director of security, said there is no consistency in security measures across district schools, so staff have mapped out a $18 million plan that would be added to the anticipated school bond this fall.

"We're talking about cameras, camera systems, access control, our visitor management systems, our intercom systems," Smith said. "You have some schools that have a lot of cameras and some schools that don't have any cameras ... We're trying to find a level of consistency, so all schools have the same level of security systems in place."

All elementary schools would be fitted with a key-card entry system for all doors, which would allow for more effective lockdowns during emergencies.

"Currently, 27 schools have this computerized sign-in system where they take your picture and scan your driver's license," Smith said.

Under the proposal, all schools would be connected in that system. That means if, for example, a sex offender or someone banned from school property tried to get into one school, the system would automatically alert the central office.

In February, the school board developed a schools safety task force to review the system's policies for emergency prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison heads that task force and said it's important for new security measures to be coupled with training and education.

"It's a big undertaking, but I think we can improve some things," Harrison said. "Letting the teachers know, letting the staff know, letting the parents know, all of this is one big bubble – it's all got to mesh together."

The biggest challenge may be financial, Smith said.

"The challenge is going to be the money it's going to take to do this," he said. "It's important we stay in the forefront as far as security."

The plan is expected to go before county commissioners next week.