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Five schools see beefed up security

Since the beginning of September, the Halifax County Public School Maintenance Department has been working to find a balance between maintenance and repair as they work to complete installation of security equipment along with other regular duties. 

So far five primary schools have seen the results as recipients of a School Security Equipment Grant, and Halifax County High School is up next to increase its building’s safety. 

Gov. Bob McDonnell awarded the $52,080 grant on Sept. 3, and a $13,020 grant match was given by the school system, the only funding used in this project.

Clays Mill Elementary School,
Meadville Elementary School and Sydnor Jennings Elementary each have received electronic access control and surveillance systems. 

Scottsburg Elementary School and Sinai Elementary School received electronic access control. They had surveillance systems installed prior to this project. 

“Employees really do like the cameras at the front doors especially at the primary schools with only one secretary,” said Director of Maintenance and Operations Larry Roller. 

Principal Catherine Glass of Scottsburg Elementary School said she was pleased to see the installation of the electronic access control during the first semester. 

“It has been very beneficial to us. Before we used to have the doors locked, and we had to get up to let people in every time, so this just makes it a whole lot easier,” said Glass. 

Previously the school’s administration had talked with students and faculty about not opening the doors for visitors, and that rule is currently in place. 

According to Roller, the electronic access control for primary schools was completed around the middle of November. 

Next, the high school will receive electronic access control, an expansion of additional surveillance equipment and radio equipment.  

Roller will meet with high school administrators this week to discuss what areas need to be considered high priority areas for completion first, and materials will be ordered immediately. 

When asked what he considered high priority areas, Roller said, “Those would be high use areas like the faculty basement entrance, the kitchen and the front, but these have yet to be determined by administration.”  

School employees also have received cards to gain access into the buildings eliminating keys which Roller said adds much more to key control and business security. 

“If an employee was to lose their card or forget to turn it in, we can easily program it out of the system. It adds an extra dimension from a central station and maintenance standpoint,” said Roller.  

While no timetable has been set in place for the high school, Roller expects it could take as long as the end of spring or “getting into next year” due to the project’s size.   

The School Security Equipment Grant program was proposed by the governor in February and established by the General Assembly through the passage of the 2013 Appropriation Act and House Bill 2343, which was sponsored by Delegate Beverly J. Sherwood, R-Winchester.