Fulton Public Schools soon will be taking big steps toward improving student safety as the next round of bond-funded construction begins in the next few weeks, including more secure entrances at the high school and middle school and new cameras district-wide.
Superintendent Jacque Cowherd said contracts have been let out and supplies have been ordered for office reconfiguration and "they are supposed to be starting (construction) in February."
At the high school, the current entrance at the commons area is being renovated to create a new, secure entrance and offices for the vice principal and attendance secretary.
"They will monitor that door and you'll have to be buzzed in and out (of the building)," Cowherd said. "As you move into the commons area, the three temporary classrooms will come out so the space taken up by the new office will be made up there."
A similar setup will be the focus of office relocation at the middle school. An empty classroom near the south east entrance off of Tenth Street is to be divided in two and converted into office space, with a new, secure door.
During the Jan. 12 meeting, the school board approved a $261,653 base bid from Tech Electronics for the new camera system, which Cowherd said should be installed - along with the new controlled proximity locks on doors throughout the district's school buildings - by the end of April.
"What we were able to do with the cameras is, (the bids) came in low enough that it was cost-effective to put cameras in the bus barn and bus maintenance building as well, in addition to all of our classroom facilities - including the education center," Cowherd said.
Following intruder training for the high school and middle school staffs on Jan. 19, one of the teachers involved said the three-hour program reinforced why the inclusion of those safety measures in the bond issue was necessary.
"It just makes me more appreciative that the new entrances were part of it," high school English teacher Julie Owen said.
Cowherd said student safety is something the district takes very seriously.
"We put that in the bond issue because that's just the trend around the U.S.," he said. "There have been a variety of school shootings and campus invasions, and we felt like to lock the buildings down and what we were able to do with the cameras was important."
As far as other bond-related projects, Cowherd said the new HVAC system is now fully installed at the high school, noting, "until the snow started they were within a couple days of completing the roofing project." The roofing consultant is scheduled to come evaluate the district's other buildings as soon as the weather breaks, with the hope to finish up roof repair and replacement projects this summer.
He said the baseball field also is "coming along nicely" and the district expects it to be open in time for the spring baseball season.