School security continues to be enhanced as the St. Mary’s board of education approved the installation of external door monitoring systems at its meeting Wednesday.
Mike Wyant, director of St. Mary’s public schools’ safety and security, told the school board that the door systems are meant to prevent intrusions. They will be at multiple schools and office locations, monitored by security staff and installed on ground-level exterior doors.
School and office locations are being assessed by the safety and security department, according to Wyant.
His department has already made several other updates including vestibules, ballistic window film, door alarms and more cameras in public schools throughout the county.
Wyant said those installations were already part of the security office’s plan, but last year’s student shooting at Great Mills High School and funding from the state’s Safe to Learn Act pushed those plans forward at a faster pace.
The county school board approved a $182,000 grant March 13, at the last school board meeting, which includes a local match of $165,638, that will go toward constructing security stations in the vestibules, more ballistic window film and door monitoring systems at Chopticon and Leonardtown high schools.
Superintendent Scott Smith said the door alarm system will be set up at the security station that sits between the vestibule and the main office. The security assistant who greets visitors as they arrive to a school can also see who’s coming in and out of all the ground-level exterior doors through a monitor.
“You can see if they are open or closed,” Smith said. “You can see in the camera exactly what’s going on.”
Wyant said the system will run off Wi-Fi, so no cables are needed. They want to start installing the systems at at Chopticon during spring break in April, at Great Mills in May and, since Leonardtown still needs more work done to its vestibules, installation at the third public high school will be done during the summer.
Wyant also wants to assign a number to each door in the schools. “It’s critically important,” he said, adding that a numbered door would help if first responders needed direction.
Karin Bailey, chair of the school board, called it a “great idea.”
Wyant said the costs of the installations would vary based on the number of ground-level exterior doors, but the price tag for Great Mills will be $50,210.