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PRC School District receives safety grant

The Pearl River County School District was awarded a $500,000 school safety grant, which will be used to add security cameras, add a new door locking system and upgrade the district’s intercom systems.

“I think it will go a long way in securing our campuses for faculty and students,” said Superintendent Alan Lumpkin.

The $500,000 grant is from the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services School Violence Prevention Program. The grant requires a 25 percent match, $125,000, from the district, meaning the total project will cost $625,000, said TJ Burleson, the district’s business administrator and director of operations.

The district has approximately 160 security cameras on its campuses already, said Burleson, and the grant will pay for the purchase of 60 additional cameras. The cameras will cover the new construction and some primarily outdoor areas that need additional coverage.

The project will also include a new door locking system for exterior doors. Currently, 14 doors in the district have access controls installed. The grant will allow the district to install access controls on over 80 additional doorways, said Burleson.

“That will give us access control to every exterior door in the district.”

Badges give the district better control over who enters the buildings than keys, Burleson said, because they can be easily turned off if they are lost or an employee no longer works for the district. Also, the badges can be easily replaced. The new system will also make it easier for school resource officers to secure exterior doors during a lockdown.

The project will also fund the purchase of a new alert system for each of the campuses so if there is an active shooter or some kind of help is needed in a classroom, a school resource officer and the administration can be reached more easily. Each classroom will have a quick and easy way to call for help, possibly with the push of a button.

The district will also be able to add to its intercom system. Currently the intercom system utilizes the speaker phone functionality on phones in classrooms and offices. The grant will be used to add speakers to each classroom and office to improve sound quality for announcements, which will be helpful during emergency alerts like fire drills or tornado drills. The bell system to alert class changes is also used over the intercom system, so the sound quality for the bell system will improve with the speakers, said Burleson.

“It’s just a huge upgrade to our security and our safety for our students and staff,” said Burleson.

Lumpkin said he was pleased with the joint effort between the technology department and the campus police department in applying for the grant.