By the end of the school year, visitors to public schools in Decatur will be required to press a buzzer before they can enter.
The school system also plans to place cameras at the entrances of every school.
The moves are part of a plan to make schools safer in the aftermath of the deadly shooting Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Twenty-six people, including 20 elementary students, were killed.
“Some of our administrators requested this and wanted to pay for it out of their school money,” Decatur City Schools Superintendent Ed Nichols said. “I said yes to the idea, but no to the plan to use PTO money. We (the school system) should pay to have this done.”
The security systems will cost between $25,000 and $30,000, money Nichols said will come from the school system’s general fund.
Beginning today, visitors to Decatur schools will have to be more patient and be prepared to show photo identification if they plan to check out a student. Except for the three alternative schools, visitors to schools had been allowed to walk in with no interruption.
Director of Safety Dwight Satterfield said three schools already have video cameras and systems that notify office personnel when someone enters.
Cedar Ridge Middle School Principal Beth Weinbaum put cameras and a buzzer system on her short-term list of things Decatur can to do make schools safer. She said teachers and administrators with whom she spoke to in other places praise the security system.
“Any inconvenience it may cost people is worth having our students safe,” Weinbaum said.
The decision to step up security came following a meeting Wednesday with Nichols, Satterfield, Lt. Proncey Roberson of Decatur police and school administrators.
During the one-hour meeting, administrators were told to be more alert and make sure no visitors “wandered through school” without first going to the office to get a visitor’s badge.
“Our first priority is always the safety of our children, and we want you to have a safe working environment,” Nichols told administrators.
Decatur’s 8,300 students return to class today from the holiday break.
Roberson said officers will continue to have a presence at schools and have been instructed to become “a more integrated part” of the school system.
Not registered? Click here