District upgrading security at seven schools

  • Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Georgetown County School District is spending more than a half million dollars this summer to beef up security at the front entrances of seven of its schools and improve the strength of windows at all its schools.

“This is another step in trying to improve the safety at our schools,” said Superintendent Randy Dozier. “We’ve identified those areas we need to improve on. It’s just trying to make things more secure for us.”

The seven schools that will get improvements are Carvers Bay High, McDonald, Rosemary, Waccamaw and Pleasant Hill elementary, and Waccamaw and Georgetown Middle.

The rest of the district’s schools will be upgraded next summer. That will be a separate contract and the cost for that work is unknown.

Dozier said the schools were built to be “inviting and open,” but things have changed, and every time there is an incident at a school somewhere else, the district reevaluates its security measures here.

“It’s a long process, but I don’t think we’ll ever be through,” Dozier said.

Although the district does not want to reveal some of the measures for security reasons, many improvements are geared toward additional protection for school staff and students by putting up barriers that restrict visitors’ access.

Tighter security is already in place at Waccamaw High School. Staff must unlock a door for visitors and thick plastic panels form a short hallway which funnels visitors into the front office.

“Resistant filming” will be placed on some windows at all schools in the district, which will improve security and make the windows more wind resistant, Dozer said.

Upgrades will also likely include replacing glass doors at schools, Dozier added.

FBi Construction Co. of Florence was awarded the contract for this summer’s work. The base bid was $527,952 and the maximum cost is $555,000.

School board member Richard Kerr, who represents Pawleys Island, remarked that he believed the district was spending a lot of money on something that might not happen instead of for educating the district’s children.

In other business

The School Board reviewed a first draft of a new policy regulating booster clubs in the district.

Dozier said the district is “not trying to put any stumbling blocks” on clubs, just trying to give some accountability and rules.

Some of the proposals:

• Every organization must have a board, register with the state as a nonprofit 501 (c)(3), and have its own bank account.

• School principals must review and approve all fundraising activities and “wish lists” from coaches.

• The club will have to account for a fundraising revenues and disbursements and provide documentation to the district on request.

• The district and superintendent must approve any facility or capital improvements and major equipment purchases.

• No district employees can conduct a club’s financial business during regular work hours.

• Any supplements paid to coaches must be handled through the district’s Human Resources Department.

No action was taken by the board on the policy.

Dozier asked that principals get feedback from coaches and report back to the board.

Rob Horvath, chairman of the board of the Coastal Montessori Charter School, told the School Board that the school has found a new site to build a facility.

The school had a contract to build on USC’s Longleaf Pines property on U.S. Highway 17, just south of Pawleys Island.

After a neighboring community threatened legal action to stop the project, the board decided it was in “best interest of the school” to terminate contract.

The board has now signed a contract for 6.9 acres just north of the original property on the same side of the highway.

Horvath said the board is working with the Justice Department to get approval for the new site, the USDA to expedite its loan, and its architect to change the original plans to accommodate the smaller property.

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