School Systems Announces $1 Million In Immediate Security Improvements

Johnston County School Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow said there has been an outpouring of suggestions about school safety and security following a Feb. 14th shooting at a Parkland, Florida school that left 17 people dead.

Appearing before Johnston County Commissioners on Monday requesting $207 million for new construction needs over the next 9 years, the school leader also told county leaders about safety upgrades the school system plans to make in the coming weeks to improve campus safety.

“In order to move forward in educating our children while also securing their physical and emotional wellbeing, we are implementing security updates across the district in three phases,” Renfrow said.

Phase 1 includes making all schools controlled-access.  Schools currently without this feature will be updated within the next 60-75 days at a cost of $140,000.

Phase 2 includes the installation of exterior cameras for school campuses without them.  The cost is project to reach as high as $150,000.

The third phase is key fobs and card swipe access for all exterior entry doors.  This will cost an estimated $600,000.

Additional security measures already implemented since the Florida school shooting include recording incoming phone calls and issuing identification badges to all employees, including temporary staff.

Renfrow said the total estimated cost is $1 million.

He also announced that Johnston County Schools had applied for a state grant that if awarded would fund the cost of 12 new school resources officers in public schools. The ultimate goal is to have a school resource officer in every elementary, middle and high school in the county.

In a letter sent to parents on Friday, Dr. Renfrow said, “We also are engaging parent groups as well as concerned citizens with ideas of placing retired law enforcement, military, and emergency management personnel in each site as another layer of protection during the school day. Again, this is in the formative stages with much learning to take place on this possible initiative.”

The ultimate goal is for students and their families to feel comfortable and safe in Johnston County Schools so students and staff can continue to focus on student learning.