How Five Georgia School Districts Allocated School Security Funds
Gwinnett, Forsyth, Cherokee, Fayette and Marietta counties all used the $70 million that Gov. Brian Kemp allocated for school safety and security improvements for different measures.
- By Kaitlyn DeHaven
- August 07, 2019
Georgia students are headed back to school in the wake of three United States mass shootings that happened this past week, but a recent poll by the state Department of Education shows that 70 percent of middle and high school students feel safe due to this year’s security upgrades.
Last year, Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation that provided about $70 million to school safety and security improvements, which came out to about $30,000 per school. Now, as the new school year approaches, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Cherokee, Fayette and Marietta counties share how they are using their funding to improve campus security.
Gwinnett County Public Schools both made improvements to existing technology and added new technology.
Spokesman Bernard Watson said the schools must stay on top of security measures as systems are rapidly changing and improving.
“New safety concerns, situations and best practices pop up and change so rapidly, the moment you stop or pause efforts to improve safety and security measures, you fall behind,” Watson said.
The district’s police bought a Motorola radio console to improve communication between officers and increased training for crisis intervention.
In Forsyth County, it was recommended by the task force that the schools install security vestibules where guests can sign in and be verified before they are permitted entry. In addition, it recommended hiring additional police officers and specialized staff for social-emotional learning, and increased partnerships with the sheriff’s department for active shooter drills and sharing costs of school police.
The Cherokee County School District will be taking on a social and emotional learning initiative, driven by Debra Murdock, the former principal of Cherokee High School and a Georgia High School Principal of the Year. In the position, she will focus on “developing new ways to better support students’ and employees’ emotional and mental health and well-being.”
All five Fayette County Public Schools middle schools received vestibules, as well as three high schools and three elementary schools. In addition, Fayette transportation launched the “Safe Stop App,” which is a mobile application that will estimate the exact time when the school bus will show up, as well as eliminate any fears parents may have. In addition, a detection dogs pilot program was launched at the schools, in which the dogs will show up at unannounced times to search for illegal drugs, alcohol and firearms.
The Marietta City School District plans to make a few changes, spending a large portion of the funding on a visitor control system and upgrade the public address systems at every school. In addition, all of Marietta’s elementary school will have school police officers.
Kaitlyn DeHaven is the Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.