HAMLET — Richmond County Schools has equipped five of its most architecturally vulnerable buildings with cameras and entrance buzzers to improve student and staff safety, Operations Director Dennis Quick told School Board members Thursday.
Teams comprising school resource officers, other representatives of local law enforcement, the schools’ maintenance director and building principals chose the five schools because visitors to their campuses were especially difficult to monitor or even see. (The school district asked that the schools not be named in the interests of safety.)
“Our goal is to have (buzzers) in all of our schools within the next two years,” Quick told board members during a work session before their regular meeting.
Last month, the school system began examining each school in the district, taking into consideration both school grounds and interiors, which they have been inspecting for such things as:
• landscaping. Do bushes or trees grow over windows or provide hiding places on school grounds?
• structure. Are doors and windows vulnerable? Do walkway covers provide ways for intruders to climb onto a second floor?
• signs. Are visitors notified immediately that they may not enter without visiting the office first?
Teams have kept an eye out for things that could be fixed immediately, such as graffiti in the bathrooms or on outside walls, and given principals permission to address those concerns immediately, Quick said.
But some things may take longer, such as rerouting traffic flow to ensure that parents and buses don’t crowd each other, or that the way is always clear should law enforcement be called.
The safety teams have their work cut out for them at some schools, Quick and Superintendent Cindy Goodman noted.
For example, Richmond Senior High School alone has 87 doors that must be locked and monitored. And teachers at other schools who lock entry doors may find themselves circling a building after recess in order to get back to class with their sweaty students.
Eventually, Goodman said, the school system wants to have keyless entry for all doors. That way, only certain people will be able to gain access.
At their regular meeting after the work session, the board:
• Welcomed a contingent of art teachers who have planned the first auction of student art, “For Love of Places: A Remix of Locations,” which will be 5-7 p.m. May 1, at Leath Memorial Library in Rockingham. The event, said art teacher SaraBeth Dew of Hamlet Middle School, would “offer legitimacy to the creative and technical skills” of students by awarding them 100 percent of the money bid on their creations.
• Set June 12-15 for summer remediation sessions throughout the district. Students who have not scored “proficient” or who have not passed end-of-course tests will be able to study and then retake the tests. All elementary and middle schools will offer remediation, as well as RSHS (in biology and English 2), the Ninth Grade Academy (in Math 1) and Richmond Early College (in all classes with end-of-course exams).
• Voted to offer to the county as surplus the vacant Rohanen Middle School. Rohanen students moved to Cordova Middle School this year, leaving their former building uninhabited.
• Approved the schedule for the 2018-19 school year. Aside from moving a couple of workdays, the schedule is very similar to the one for this academic year — although Board Chair Wiley Mabe noted that such things as snow made schedules “a moving target.”
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]