NJ County Schools Invest in New Security Measures

NJ County Schools Invest in New Security Measures

Burlington County has $20 million in grants available for security improvements to all 21 public high schools in the county.

Burlington County high schools are investing in new security measures thanks to the county’s $20 million grant program. The planned security improvements include new security vestibules, updated exterior lights, additional security cameras and enhanced door locks.

Burlington County has $20 million in grants available for security improvements to all 21 public high schools in the county. The grants are being awarded on a rolling, first-come, first-serve basis, and will go toward funding capital improvements such as portable screening devices, panic alarms, entry buzzers, classroom door locks, new entrance vestibules, emergency alert systems and video surveillance.

“With each vote and grant that’s awarded we are continuing to deliver on the commitment I made earlier this year when the program was announced,” Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs said.

Rancocas Valley is one of the nine high schools that have officially been awarded a grant through the program. The funds are going toward a new secure vestibule.

“It was perfect for us because we were already in the works (to improve security) but one of the items that the grant really helps with is the safety and security vestibule,” Rancocas Valley Regional High School Superintendent Christopher Heilig said. “During the school day, all of the traffic is funneled through that main entrance.”

According to Heilig, the funding goes toward specific projects, but can serve as the basis for other changes the district will make to improve security.

“Once (visitors) check in like that and they’re cleared to come into the building, we’d still like any visitors to funnel into a certain section of the building so I almost call it visitor management too,” he said. “When somebody comes into the building, normally they’re going to guidance, registration or attendance, so we’re in the process of using this money for the vestibule but then also containing all of those visitors into one side of the building. So there would be really no reason to go into any other part of the building in the future.”

Riverside Superintendent Robin Ehrich said she was “thrilled the freeholders recognize the importance of school safety and security.” Her district plans to use the grant funds to upgrade the school’s public address system, add exterior lights and video surveillance to all access doors, double the number of interior cameras and upgrade security vestibules.

Willingboro Superintendent Ronald Taylor did not give specifics as to his district’s security enhancement plans but called the funding an “important opportunity to improve the safety and security of the high school.”

“We know that our charge to protect our students and staff is never complete and always transforming as the world around us changes,” Taylor said in an email. “Our Board of Education, administration, community and district as a whole place the highest value on the health and safety of our school family. While I won’t give specifics of the plan, it will 100 percent be towards solidifying Willingboro High School’s physical plant in conjunction with the security plan and protocols that are currently in place.”

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