Olentangy Valley News

Security upgrades on fast track thanks to grant

All 23 Olentangy schools are set to receive safety features

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A grant from the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission will pay for security improvements throughout the Olentangy Local School District.

The commission awarded the district $161,000 earlier this year through its School Security Grant Program. The funds will pay for security upgrades to school buildings' main entrances and the installation of the Multi-Agency Radio Communications System, or MARCS, for use throughout the district.

Jennifer Iceman, human resources supervisor for the district, said work on security improvements at the entrances of Olentangy's 23 school buildings is ongoing. Some of the improvements have been completed and all of them should be wrapped up before students return from summer break.

Iceman said the district is not releasing details on all of the upgrades due to security concerns, but said they include improvements to main-entrance security cameras.

She said the district likely would have pursued the improvements even if it had not received the funding, but the changes would have been completed over an extended timeline.

"It really just gave us the ability to start on them much earlier than we normally would have," she said.

The district does not have to match any of the funds it received through the grant.

Iceman said the MARCS system is a voice- and data-transmission system that lets workers in the main office of a school building get directly in touch with local law enforcement agencies.

"It's kind of a panic button that goes directly to the 911 dispatchers," she said.

Iceman said other systems rely on an alarm company to relay information from the school to law enforcement agencies. MARCS allows schools to cut out the middleman and allow for the quickest response time, she said.

According to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, the MARCS network is operable throughout the state and within a 10-mile radius outside of Ohio. More than 47,000 MARCS units have been installed in public buildings throughout the state.

The School Security Grant Program was established by the Ohio Legislature in 2013. The program reimburses districts up to $2,000 per building for installation of a MARCS unit and up to $5,000 per building for improvements to entrances.

Iceman said the district will not apply for any additional funding during the grant program's second round.

"We were approved for everything we were looking for in round one," she said.

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