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Buzz-in entry being considered by Richmond County schools

Saturday, March 16, 2013 4:23 PM
Last updated Monday, March 18, 2013 10:16 AM
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All day long, the front door at Garrett Elementary School remains locked tight.

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Lutricia Parkman presses the buzzer to get into Garrett Elementary School. The buzz-in entry system is being tested at the Eisenhower Drive building for consideration at other schools.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Lutricia Parkman presses the buzzer to get into Garrett Elementary School. The buzz-in entry system is being tested at the Eisenhower Drive building for consideration at other schools.

Tracey McManus
Twitter: @aug_mcmanus
E-mail | 706-823-3424

So do the doors at the back and sides of the building on Eisenhower Drive.

To be allowed inside, visitors now have to press a silver button and state their business into an intercom to the receptionist, who is watching them from a camera inside the front office.

With a press of a button, the staff at Garrett now has the ability to filter every person who walks in the building – and keep out the ones who have no business on campus.

“The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive mixed in probably with a little bit of surprise,” Principal Doug Frierson said. “Many of our parents have been used to coming in whenever they wanted. It’s one more layer of security to keep our kids safe.”

The buzz-in entry, fully launched last week, is an added security measure being tested at Garrett for consideration at other schools. Senior Director of Facilities and Maintenance Benton Starks said most buildings built in recent years have the ability to activate buzz-in systems, but the district is still determining the best way to utilize them.

“We’re trying to see how well it works,” Starks said. “If it’s an encumbrance to day-to-day operations, we need to do it differently.”

Twenty schools in Columbia County use the buzz-in entry systems.

Curtis Baptist School on Broad Street installed the system about two years ago for the security of its students, said Francine Burroughs, the head of the upper school.

She said with the amount of foot traffic in the area and the proximity to downtown, staff decided it was a way to keep unwanted visitors off the campus.

“We love it, and parents have thanked us,” Burroughs said.

Richmond County is also working on other security upgrades and has recruited an outside security consultant to evaluate the buildings and possibilities for improvements. However, Starks said the evaluation of security began long before the December mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that has prompted much national discussion about school safety measures.

Jenkins White Elementary Charter School is using a lockdown system for the doors in the hallway. In case of an emergency, a button in the front office releases the magnets on the doors surrounding all classrooms and locks them.

Principal Earl Kelton said it’s one more way to give parents, staff and students peace of mind.

Kelton said the school is also considering drilling peepholes on exterior doors so staff can see who is outside.

“I have always been very aware of school safety, but this gives me peace of mind,” he said.

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TrulyWorried 03/16/13 - 06:02 pm
School Security

should have been implemented years ago. Slowly but surely things are beginning to take shape. Schools that HAVE their systems in place should share that information with other schools and take that as a road map to their installations. Don't hire any more consultants, they cost a lot and could be done without! And Tracey - there is a difference in one of your words in your column, "piece" and "peace" - I'd choose the latter. And - one more - but YOU find it. Journalism is a tough subject and so is proof reading.

SemperParatus 03/16/13 - 05:47 pm
Safety and security...

...for our children and teachers are a top priority! Let's do what it takes to get the job done! No ands, ifs or buts!

Truth Matters
Truth Matters 03/16/13 - 05:52 pm
School Security

I was visiting a school in South Georgia this week that had a sophisticated security system. Entry into the main building is allowed. Once inside one must stop at a desk to sign in, announce him/herself and state the reason for the visit. The party is then summoned to greet the visitor at which time an interior door is electronically opened for the visitor to gain access into the main school corridor. All of the new schools that I have visited lately have this system.

Go for it RCBoE.

TrulyWorried 03/16/13 - 06:05 pm
School Security

Yes - great - read what other schools already have and ask them for their information and advice!!! Get going and have it done - forget about the consultants, they want big dollars and this can pay for installations - systems are in use and are working. Get to it!!

nocnoc 03/16/13 - 08:08 pm
Very glad to see practical

Very glad to see practical and logical security for our schools being applied.

I support this and limited access areas that require escorts.
Anything is better than the nearly wide open concepts schools have operated under for decades.

But this is a sensible 1st step.

jkline 03/17/13 - 06:30 am
This is a Terrible Idea

This is a terrible idea, that will do more long-term damage than the problem it is designed to address. Our children will be psychically twisted by this environment, and we will be to blame.

So, elementary school education will now be geared to accustom children to a universal environment of airport-style "security" and control. To complete the logical progression, the next steps are triple-strand concertina wire, guard towers, and water-cooled machine guns. Personally, I am completely opposed to this. Children should not grow up thinking it is normal to be controlled like a prisoner, but that will be the effect.

I have to think that it is intentional. It takes little imagination to predict what sort of world our grand children will consider quite normal. I wonder what it will be called--"the maximum security lifestyle"?

This would hurt children worse than anything so far. If implemented, although nobody will discuss it, expect more home schooling. I certainly want no child of mine to think that a maximum security environment is either normal or acceptable.

CobaltGeorge 03/17/13 - 07:23 am

I sure would like to see you tell your mindset to the children of Sand Hook and Columbine High School!


There is a big different between the feeling I had in the 40's and 50's when I went to High school to surround atmosphere that they are facing today. Back then, just as many guns but no shooting....what caused the change?

seenitB4 03/17/13 - 08:47 am
Buzz ins

Great idea ...should be workable in all schools...

Austin Rhodes
Austin Rhodes 03/17/13 - 09:22 am
The Sandy Hook killer shot his way in...

...through locked doors and past "buzz in" security points. The women that bravely ran to challenge him were cut down immediately. Had one of them had as much as a .22 revolver in their desk drawer or pocketbook, things may have ended differently.

Not a single adult was allowed, by law, to have anything to protect themselves on campus that day. The whole world knows that by now.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 03/17/13 - 02:54 pm

Austin Rhodes’ comments about persons intent on causing mayhem’s ability to blast their way through locked school doors is worthy of analysis. It may take more than just locking the doors. It may take “hardened” doors that an AR-15 cannot get past.

I have no problems with allowing school personnel who have been trained and certified to provide their own weapons in their work location, but I question whether you will have the right teacher in the right classroom when return fire is needed. Still, might as well give it a try. It's a way better solution than Diane Feinstein's or Joe Biden's.

jkline 03/17/13 - 04:34 pm
A Better Alternative

My proposal:

Allow teachers to go armed at their own discretion, and as they wish. If a teacher wants to wear a .45 in plain sight on his belt, or just carry a .32 hammerless revolver in his pocket out of sight, it would be up to him. Going armed would not be mandatory, but left up to the individual teacher. Further, the individual teacher would not be required to notify the school or anyone else whether or not he was armed.

Advantages to this approach:

It costs the taxpayer nothing. No expensive guards, no technical systems to be bought, manned, and maintained, and even the arms would be private arms belonging to and maintained by the individual teachers.

Because nobody knows who is armed, no plan can be made to strike where nobody is sure to be armed or unarmed.

A “maximum security” environment, so harmful to a child's developing view of the world, is avoided. The children would not be forced to grow up in a prison environment.

It would reinforce the idea of individual and personal responsibility, rather than encourage pushing the responsibility to expensive specialists. This in itself is a valuable lesson for the children to learn in this environment.

Some expected to oppose the idea:

Government officials with a stake in government programmes to be financed by the taxpayer would gain nothing from this, and would not want to see it.

Professional security “experts” would oppose it for the same reason—less business for them. No security expert will ever recommend something that does not give people like himself more employment.

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