New Albany News

School district will use $35,000 state grant to buy police radios

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Each building in the New Albany-Plain Local School District soon will have a radio that directly connects school officials to the New Albany Police Department.

"The benefit to having a radio as opposed to a 911 call over a cellphone or a land line is the ease of contact with police department," said Ryan Southers, the district's school resource officer.

Southers said district officials would need only to push a button on the radio to speak with someone at the police department.

He said it could save "wasted seconds" during an emergency.

The school district has received a $35,000 grant from the Ohio School Facilities Commission to purchase Multi-Agency Radio Communication Systems (MARCS) for each school building.

The grant program allows the reimbursement of up to "$2,000 for one emergency communications system or (MARCS) unit per eligible school building and up to $5,000 for costs incurred with a purchase of a security entrance system consisting of a security camera, an intercom and remote-access equipment for one entrance per eligible school building," according to the school district's website.

District officials are considering further upgrades to building entrances at the middle and high schools, which would help improve security of the campus, the website said.

The district completed several security upgrades in the last year.

In January 2013, middle school and high school students were issued badges that unlock doors to the cafeteria and the middle school and high school buildings. This allowed the district to lock all high school doors except for the main entrance.

Elementary students do not have badges for building access because they always are with a teacher who will have a badge and can gain access, district officials said.

For those students, the district changed building entries before the start of the 2013-14 school year. The K-1 and 2-5 buildings now have secure vestibules that require visitors to enter through the office.

"Now the district is working on the plan to make these renovations to both the high school and middle school," district spokesman Patrick Gallaway said. "A portion of the funding that the district was awarded from the state will enable us to reimburse those district funds already spent and to also make these changes at the high school and middle school."

The district also revised its volunteer and visitor policies, which went into effect Dec. 2.

All volunteers working in kindergarten to fifth grade now must complete a background check.

Volunteers working in the middle and high schools must complete a background check if they potentially would have to work with students unsupervised, such as on a field trip, in a club or other activity or as a coach, according to district officials.

In addition, all visitors now are required to show photo identification before entering a school building.

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