CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston County School District (CCSD) leaders heard from trustee constituent members on safety and security concerns that schools are facing on Monday. They also heard from district staff who recommended several security changes and education expansion.
Among the top priorities for district leadership is increasing security measures district-wide to keep schools and students safe. One possible solution includes hiring armed security guards.
District staff surveyed assistant principals and principals, school resource officers, teachers of the year, and some parents over the last few months before compliling the results. The more than 200 responses determined adding armed security guards, changing locks in classrooms, and installing law enforcement-grade radio systems as the best investments in enhanced security within CCSD.
The projects would need designated funding, all coming with upfront costs and some needing additional funding. Officials are hoping to have armed officers in schools filling holes where law enforcement agencies aren’t able to provide school resource officers by 2023. Projects like lock replacement and professional radio system installments would happen over the next few years.
“We talked about enhancements to libraries and adding electronic locks to library doors,” says Michael Reidenbach, Executive Director of Security and Emergency Management for the Charleston County School District. “We talked about BDA systems which allow police, fire, and ems radios to work properly inside our buildings. We talked about transitioning locks on classroom doors to locks called storeroom function locks which are locks that cannot be physically unlocked to make sure our classrooms stay locked at all times. Full-time weapon screening at high schools using weapon detectors.”
The Board of Education is expected to take action on the recommendations to hire outside armed security guards and installing new locks and a radio system at its next meeting in two weeks. The projects would cost $1.4 million to get started next year, costing roughly $9 million for installment at every school.
District staff say they are also looking at ways to expand early childhood education across the district, opening spaces to hundreds of kids currently on a waiting list.
The focus is increasing options for parents of children ages four under who are looking for pre-kindergarten learning opportunities.
District leaders say the current plan is to add four classrooms across the district allowing more students to enroll in the pre-k classes.