Originally created 06/27/99

Columbia County to get proposals on school security



By early July, Columbia County school officials should have a list of recommendations for new campus security measures.

In the past month, three committees have met to discuss ways Columbia County can make schools safer. The committees have addressed site security, weapons and deterrence.

School Superintendent Tommy Price said topics have included armed officers, additional surveillance cameras, door locks, metal detectors, dress codes and overall access to schools.

"I think we're looking at the full spectrum of things we can do or can consider to do," Mr. Price said.

With recent shootings at schools in Littleton, Colo., and Conyers, Ga., safety has been pushed to the forefront around the country.

Private companies have donated cellular phones for classroom use by local school systems. Richmond County has trained its school personnel on metal detector use.

In Columbia County, committee members include principals, parents, students, local law enforcement and representatives from Grovetown and Harlem. The school system already has made plans in its budget for new school alarms and two-way intercoms.

Mr. Price said that once the committees finish their tasks, recommendations will be compiled and presented to the school board. He said he hopes to have recommendations for the board at its July 13 meeting.

Lakeside High School Principal Julius McAnally, co-chairman of the site security committee, said a suggestion has been made for the school system to conduct an audit of current security at each school.

Security, such as cameras and fences, varies from school to school.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency has added four regional positions to help school systems plan and improve safety measures. In the past year, GEMA has conducted training for school systems and has put more focus on school violence.

"What we find is, we really need to look at contemporary issues in school safety," said Karen Franklin, project coordinator for GEMA's school safety project.

The four regional positions, three of which have been filled, will focus on training, technical assistance and incident support for school systems around the state.

School systems and public safety agencies, Ms. Franklin said, need to work together to address issues such as the threat of mass shootings and hostage situations.

"It takes a community effort," she said.

Peggy Ussery can be reached at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 112, or ussery@augustachronicle.com.