Montgomery County parents may rest a little easier after the county school board voted Tuesday to speed up spending to increase security at Montgomery County elementary schools.
The Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously to request an additional $364,000 to place video intercom systems at the entrance of every county elementary school. If the Montgomery County Council approves the request, all 132 elementary campuses could receive the upgrade by July, the Washington Examiner reported.
Passage by the County Council is likely. On Monday, Council President Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring and Education Committee Chair Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring sent a letter to school board President Christopher Barclay (Dist. 4) of Takoma Park requesting the school board hasten plans to increase school security in all of the county’s public schools.
“The County Council will make sure the Board of Education has the capital resources it needs to keep our kids safe,” Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring said in a news release. “We look forward to working collaboratively with the Board on this issue and other important topics throughout the budget process this year.”
Four years ago, the Council approved funding in the Capital Improvements Program to install school security systems, including access control systems, camera systems and visitor management systems, over several years. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of next school year with $1.5 million approved for that year. The board’s Tuesday vote requests an extra $364,000 in 2013 that hadn’t been budgeted for use until next year.
Since the December shooting that killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, county parents and leaders have spoken out about school safety concerns in Montgomery County.
Parents and family members of students at Bradley Hills Elementary in Bethesda have written to county leaders asking for security improvements at the elementary school’s temporary location.
“As a graduate of Montgomery County Public Schools, I can say that my own schools definitely needed better security—even when it came to more mundane things like school fights,” Matt Adler wrote in a comment on Patch.
Some residents may agree that the security cameras are a good start, but that more needs to be done.
“A multi-pronged approach to safety is what we need,” . She encouraged community members to attend the county’s town hall meetings to discuss security issues with government leaders. “MCPS is constantly modernizing school entries but money is tight and education doesn't often get the green [light] it needs to handle the growth in terms of numbers and needs.”
The Montgomery County Council of PTAs has scheduled a school safety forum for 7 p.m. on Jan. 16 in the auditorium of the Carver Educational Services Center in Rockville. Speakers will include Doug Steel from MCPS security and Capt. Luther Reynolds, Montgomery County 5th police district commander, according to Susan Burkinshaw, a health and safety chairwoman of the organization. County Council members and county police Chief J. Thomas Manger may also be in attendance, she said.