The Rock Hill School district school board unanimously agreed to spend more than $2.3 million to improve safety.
"Safety first at Rock Hill schools." Rock Hill Associate Superintendent Anthony Cox said.
Cox reports the school district spent about $52,000 to an outside company, Safe Havens International, to conduct a safety audit on all of the district's 28 schools. It was very detailed. The firm traveled to each school to find out how workers handle emergencies. The firm even checked campuses at night to see if schools were safe when classes were not in session. The audit revealed the district's safety plan was outdated.
"They recommended that a different approach," Cox said. "To make our plans more responsive and robust and that's where we want to spend our money first."
Soon specific responsibilities will be handed out to each staff member from the principal to the custodian.
"Instead of having one school plan," Cox said. "What Safe Havens recommends is having a role specific crisis plan. So that anyone of our folks, in their job description, can respond effectively and as a team."
The money will go toward installing cameras, a buzzer system, better lighting at campuses and other measures. Administrators believe the upgrades will make a difference.
"Any precaution our district is doing to improve safety," Mt. Holly Elementary School Asst. Principal Nakia Barnes. "Is much appreciated. So our children are safe and that our families feel that our schools are safe."
Some wanted some of the money to help pay for School Resource Officers (SRO) to monitor the district's 17 elementary schools.
"I just think an officer at a school would be helpful." Grandparent Donna Payne said.
The district did think about using money for officers in schools but thought that could come at a later date.
"One SRO police officer is one set of eyes," Cox said. "And they can be a lot of places but they can't be everywhere at once.
They also may not be able to act fast enough. So our first line of defense is always going to be a well informed public and a well prepared staff."
Improvements should be seen soon to keep the more than 17,000 students in the Rock Hill school district safe.
Extra money found in the school district's operating budget is being used to pay for the improvements.
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