Entry into the Botetourt County schools will become more difficult next week. Visitors will be buzzed into schools via identification by camera. “Beginning next Monday, steps will occur to install Aiphone JK series security systems at all of Botetourt County’s 12 schools,” said Dr. Tony Brads, school superintendent on Jan. 3. After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last month, tensions have run high all over the country about the school safety scenario.
Jen Ward notified The Botetourt View of the upcoming security upgrade. Ward had received a call from the school principal that went out to parents at Greenfield Elementary School yesterday.
Brads was happy to explain. “The Sheriff’s Department has provided increased security, but we needed more. We sent out bids through procurement during the winter break. Each of the systems will require a buzz into the school from a remote access lock, has a panoramic camera to view visitors and an excellent color feature camera with a video and playback feature. The remote lock and unlock feature is particularly important and the stored video images will make easy access to who has been at the door in case it is ever needed.”
Security Lock and Key in Roanoke has been awarded the contract. Brads said they will evaluate each school prior to installation.
Sheriff Ronnie Sprinkle also confirmed that he has has included five new deputies to act as School Resource Officers for the schools in his 2013-14 budget request to the county. Currently there are four resource officers on the secondary level. There are two DARE officers additionally for the elementary schools. The additional five officers in his department request would cover each school in the county with an armed, trained deputy on premises. “We have had deputy coverage at the schools after the Newtown event. We sent out an interdepartmental email yesterday to all of our officers stating we want them to patrol schools and parking lots as often as possible during the day shifts and to make their presence known.”
Sprinkle’s Department has been continually turned down by the county budget committee for the past several years in requests for additional road deputies and for another dispatcher. “People have to realize this will cost the tax payer money,” Sprinkle said on Thursday morning. “But we have to keep our school children safe as well as the citizens of the county.”
The first of joint school budget input meetings begins tonight at 7 p.m. at James River High School. For other input meeting dates click here.