County schools receive $150k security safety grant from state

Published 9:03 am Wednesday, August 1, 2018

As school systems across the state continue to focus on improving safety for students and staff, Carter County was one of several systems to receive grant funding for safety projects from the state.

As part of Governor Bill Haslam’s proposed budget for the state this fiscal year, the governor included $30 million for school safety. That money is set to be distributed to school systems across the state for safety improvement projects.

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The Carter County School System received $150,760 from the School Safety Security Grant for the coming school year.

“We’ve not made final plans for that funding yet,” said Mickey Taylor, who serves as the safety coordinator for the school system.

While plans are not finalized, Taylor said the school system is looking at ways to improve how school staff identifies and vets visitors coming into the school.

Currently, the school system uses an electronic door lock system equipped with a security camera and a communication system. When a visitor comes to the door, they push a button to “buzz” the office. A staff member in the office then pulls up the security camera and can use a microphone to speak with and identify the visitor.

Once inside the school, the visitor goes to the office and presents their photo identification card. School staff then scan the ID using the Raptor system which checks to make sure the visitor is not on any sex offender registry or wanted for any outstanding warrants.

While the system has worked well, Taylor said school staff cannot fully vet the visitor until they are already inside the school to get their ID scanned.

“We are looking to get to the point where we can do our vetting before people get inside the schools,” Taylor said.

The school system is hoping to create entry kiosks that allow school staff to scan the visitor’s ID before the visitor has access to the main part of the school. Taylor said the school system is currently working with the Carter County Sheriff’s Office as well as Raptor and Sprint to try to find the best solution for the issue.

“Now that we have an SRO (School Resource Officer) in every school, those entrances are our main focus,” Taylor said.

In addition to the improved vetting procedure for visitors, Taylor said school system officials will also be looking at security measures such as additional cameras and fencing.

“All of the high schools are well fenced, and so are some of the elementary schools,” Taylor said. “Most of them are in good shape, but some are still a challenge.”