Security has become a huge discussion due to the fatal mass shootings across America and the Henry County Board of Education is taking every precaution. The board voted at its Nov. 12 meeting and approved a $484,777 bid from Nix-Fowler Construction. This is for the high schools to have the single-point entry project, which has been a frequent security upgrade in the Ola community, as well as other schools in the county in the past recent years.
“[The money is] a tax provided by the county to make new buildings or renovations to the schools in the district,” Charles Chavous, assistant principal, said.
The funding goes towards an atrium where there will soon be security doors that are locked from the outside so all traffic will be forced through the main office before they can access the rest of the building.
“As it stands now anyone can walk into the building and go down the ROTC hallway, they can come into the cafeteria, or they can come down the 100 hallway with limited resistance,” Chavous said.
This project includes having the installation of additional interior doors at all 10 high schools in the county. Other schools in the district already have the single point entry doors and screening systems at the doors.
“The point is to lay eyes on everyone that comes into the building,” Daniel Stowers, public safety teacher, said.
While these doors are a step in the right direction, they are very labor intensive as well as costly given that Ola has yet to have a threat warranting these extreme measures.
“[The main goal is to] limit access to the building,” Chavous said.
After the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, awareness of school security has grown. The Parkland shooter was a student at the school and pulled a fire alarm to make students easy targets. Though no amount of security can guarantee absolute safety, the board has to make tough decisions to have both a secure learning environment and a school that is not run like a prison.
“I feel like the doors will add another layer of security,” Brittany Hyder, junior, said.
Administrators will lock all entrance points at 8:15 and stay that way for the remainder of the day. The renovation is scheduled to occur during Ola’s February Break (Feb. 19th- Feb. 22nd).