School board to pay $67,785 for security consultant

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 21, 2013

EAST SPENCER — The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education voted Wednesday to hire a consultant to assess security at all the district’s schools.
Safe Havens International will charge the school system $67,785 for the work, which will likely take place next year.
Risk Manager Sharon Gardner and Maintenance Director Butch Bivens had been asked to address security concerns at Knox Middle School. Gardner said that in 2007, the estimated cost for a door access control system and surveillance cameras at Knox was $160,000. That cost doesn’t include replacing doors, which may be needed due to the school’s age.
Instead of going forward with improvements only at Knox, Gardner suggested a system-wide assessment.
“I think that would provide good feedback for all of our schools that have security issues,” she said. “They can come in, and they may have better ideas.”
Safe Havens is a nonprofit that works with schools and school systems on campus safety and crisis readiness. Rowan-Salisbury Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said she’s worked with Safe Havens in the past.
“I quite honestly think they’re the best in the nation at doing this” she said.
Moody said Safe Havens will perform an “exhaustive study” of every school, prioritize security concerns and present the board with a comprehensive report on each school and a five-year plan that will help district leaders when they develop their annual budgets.
Gardner said the nonprofit will also provide more than $200,000 worth of free services, including training for school staff. And she said the district will share the results of the assessment with local law enforcement agencies.
School board Chairman Dr. Richard Miller noted that administrators at Knox had identified concerns and asked if the school system couldn’t go ahead with changes there that Safe Havens would probably recommend anyway.
“I just want to be comfortable with waiting,” he said.
Gardner said the school system has already made a couple of improvements at Knox to make the school more secure, but that Rowan-Salisbury has “other schools with higher priorities.”
She said the soonest Safe Havens could come to Rowan County would be April of next year, and the individual school assessments would probably take place over the summer. Moody said she would push to get results back on Knox, and possibly some other schools, without having to wait for the final report.
School board member Josh Wagner said he wants to be sure the board will take action when it gets the assessment results.
“I think the worst thing we could do is go out and get that report, then sit on our hands,” he said.