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Grady County schools are getting another layer of security in the coming months thanks to money budgeted by the state legislature.
A new security program soon to be installed here will give teachers the ability to send low and high alerts to administrators with the press of a badge. The alert will also show administrators what type of emergency it is and exactly where on the campus the problem is located.
“This gives every adult in the building the ability to notify the administration and (School Resource Officers) if a fight breaks out, if someone has a seizure, if there’s a medical emergency or if there’s a weapon on campus. It gives every adult the ability to lock the building down and get help to the area where it’s needed,” says Dr. Kermit Gilliard, superintendent of Grady County Schools.
Similar in size to a credit card, the badges will be issued to every school campus employee, according to Gilliard. He says the system will also give coaches and program sponsors added security anywhere on the campus, from ball fields and playgrounds to gymnasiums and auditoriums.
“If you’re out on a baseball field or car pick-up or bus duty, somewhere where you’d normally have to use a cell phone to call for help, this will work,” Gilliard says. “All administrators are notified by an app on their phone or computer where the emergency is and whether it’s medical or safety.”
Calls for medical assistance are not unusual in schools. In the last month, an ambulance has been called once to Shiver School and twice to Northside Elementary School, the superintendent says. “If they’d had this badge, all they’d have to do is press a button,” Gilliard points out. School nurses will also be notified when and where medical emergencies are declared using the new security program.
In addition to the notification, strobe lights will be installed to quietly alert the school to the location of the emergency. The school system can also arm a verbal alarm that will broadcast a prerecorded message in the event of a lockdown, or to explain that a medical emergency is taking place and the location of the emergency.
Gilliard says this is a quick way to communicate in a time of need, and the system is not reliant on cellular networks, wifi or electricity.
Cost of the system is $30,000 per school, according to the superintendent, the exact amount allocated by the legislators to each school in the state. Grady County is also installing the system at the board of education office, an additional cost of $12,500. That expense will come out of the school system’s general fund or ESPLOST, Gilliard says.
The Grady County Board of Education approved the security system during a special called meeting Thursday morning on a vote of 3-0, with Chairman Jeff Worsham, and board members John White and Derrick Majors voting affirmatively. Laura Register was unable to attend the meeting and Teresa Gee Hardy participated by telephone but was unable to vote since she was not there in person. Gilliard says both Hardy and Register had told him earlier that they supported the project.
The security program is a product of Centegix, a Georgia company based in Atlanta. Gilliard says he expects the program to be up and running in Grady County schools before the end of the calendar year.