More School Safety Measures Near

NEWARK — The Worcester County Board of Education this week approved the second phase of a vast number of safety measures at public schools across the county.

Following the Sandy Hook tragedy in late 2012, Worcester County Public Schools officials worked closely with local law enforcement, school administrators, parents, teachers and students to review and evaluate the existing safety policies and procedures in an attempt to help ensure a similar incident doesn’t happen here.

The first phase’s safety measures included Worcester County Sheriff’s Office deputies in each of the public schools, electronic access entry systems to control who goes in and out of the schools, a standardized visitor identification system at each school and additional security cameras at each school.

On Tuesday, Worcester County Public Schools Safety Supervisor Steve Price presented the second phase of the plan to the school board, who approved the measures subject to the availably of local and state funding.

Included in the second phase is replacing the existing fire alarm system and upgrading or replacing interior and exterior security cameras at Stephen Decatur High School. Pocomoke Elementary, Showell Elementary, Buckingham Elementary and Stephen Decatur Middle will get upgrades to existing exterior security cameras. Snow Hill Middle, Snow Hill Elementary, Stephen Decatur Middle and Buckingham Elementary will get upgrades to interior security cameras.

The plan also calls for replacing the aging and outdated security camera systems on county public school buses. The school buses will also get a new radio communication system. Ocean City Elementary will get a new 800 MHz public safety radio system under the plan. In addition, the school system’s central office in Newark will get a new security system along with upgrades to security camera systems.

“It’s been a learning process for all of us,” said Price. “We worked closely with law enforcement and emergency services and some of this we included from the beginning and some of this we learned along the way.”

The total price tag for the phase comes in at $266,332, which is expected to be shared 50-50 between the county and the state.

Board of Education member Bob Hulburd expressed the importance of getting the county share approved in the current budget.

“State funding is contingent on the county matching this,” he said. “It’s very important we secure the local funding for this.”