School security raised by St. Mary Parish School Board

CENTERVILLE, La. — In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, St. Mary Parish schools began re-evaluating security. Thursday, the school board approved up to $66,000 to be spent on audio/video access control equipment for single point-of-entry access at each of the district’s 11 elementary schools.

Eventually, the district will include the same concept in all of its junior high and high schools, according to Brad Wiese, maintenance supervisor.

Schools have contacted their local police departments to go over possible security problems within the facilities, and the new system is being provided to funnel visitors through a single entrance into the school.

It provides video for visitor identification and audio for communication while remaining behind locked doors. The doors also will be retrofitted with a new electronic door lock. The system allows for a push button release to unlock the door. An additional camera will be installed at the entry point.

Wiese also said that additional security measures may have to be considered during the 2013-14 special project budget process including:

—A second set of doors to limit access to buildings on larger campuses.

—Redesign of front offices.

—Additional fencing and camera systems.

—Upgrading door locks.

—Upgrading or adding burglar alarm systems.

—Adding door cameras for cafeteria entrances.

—Security guards.

A related request was approved by the District 3 Maintenance Committee during its meeting to fund a canopy over the entry point at M.D. Shannon Elementary at a cost of $6,200 from the district’s capital projects fund.

In other action Thursday, the board:

—Elected Murphy Pontiff of Franklin board president and re-elected Ed Payton of Baldwin its vice president, both by consensus.

—Approved a resolution to employ special counsel to join other governmental entities in pursuing potential claims against BP for losses arising from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The school system, along with the parish council and Town of Berwick, have provided their sales tax records to Dr. Tim Ryan, an economist at University of New Orleans, who analyzes whether losses were incurred.

—Expanded the agenda to re-advertise for hamburger and hot dog buns after two unsuccessful tries. In the meantime, the district will purchase what it needs from local stores and consult the state to find out how to avoid being in violation of bid laws if it does not receive any bids this time.

—Received year-to-date sales tax collections for the first six months of the year totaling $8.88 million, which is 7.6 percent above the same time a year ago and 11 percent above budget predictions.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

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