Licking County News

Southwest Licking OKs funding for new security system

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The Southwest Licking school board on July 31 voted 4-0 to waive competitive bidding and hire Xentry Systems Integration to install new security systems in the district's school buildings for $48,522.64.

Board member Roger Zeune was absent.

The district had estimates from two other companies for approximately $52,000 and $56,000.

"We did essentially get three bids," board President Don Huber said, although they weren't formal bids.

Treasurer Richard Jones suggested the board waive competitive bidding -- advertising the work publicly and waiting for offers from various companies -- "due to timing and trying to get this done."

Jones said the district's existing security systems are outdated and it is imperative to install the new systems as close as possible to the first day of the new school year.

"This allows us to get the system done sooner; the sooner the better," Jones said.

Information-technology supervisor Jeff Cameron said he researched the district's security needs and reached out to the most appropriate companies for cost estimates.

"Essentially, the big part of this is to get buzzers on the entryways," Cameron said. "It really is a much better system and it's easier to add onto going forward."

Basically, that kind of system means someone from inside the building would have to admit anyone entering.

"So, it will replace what we have," board member Dave Engel said.

Cameron said for the most part it would replace the existing system, although the new system could integrate aspects of the old.

Cameron said he hopes to sell whatever parts of the existing system can't be integrated to recover some of the new system's cost.

"Will they be done by the start of school?" board vice president Debra Moore asked.

"Probably not," Cameron replied.

He said Xentry is 10 to 15 days out before it can begin the work. Xentry would begin with the high school's security needs, then progress to the middle school and then the elementary buildings.

Huber said he hopes the new system would dissuade people from placing "rocks in doors" to hold them open, which essentially negates the security system.

"I'm really tired of seeing the rocks in the doors," Huber said.

"It's a very, very advanced system compared to what we have now," Cameron said.

Cameron said a camera would be installed in the weight room that would snap a photo every time the door opens. He said security with the weight room has been an issue.

"This is a real step forward and I appreciate it," Huber said.

In other business July 31, board members voted 4-0 to approve a declaration of intent to place a 7.9-mill, five-year substitute renewal levy on the November ballot.

Board members had voted July 17 to seek the levy, but the county auditor's office had yet to determine the millage.

Brad Cottrell, Licking County's chief deputy auditor, said Southwest Licking's current operating levy is 7.87 mills and costs homeowners $241.02 per year per $100,000 of assessed property valuation.

The substitute levy, if approved, would collect only the amount of the existing levy, or $4,525,000, district officials said.

However, because the new levy is a substitute, it could collect more revenue as new construction occurs, district officials said.

Superintendent Robert Jennell said previously he didn't have exact figures, but he's aware that several local subdivisions are planning to add homes.

"It's like a renewal," Jones said. "The only difference is growth with new construction."

He said buildings coming off of tax abatements also count as new construction.

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