UPDATE: Troup County School System Plans to Purchase Metal Detectors for Middle and High Schools – LaGrange Daily News

UPDATE: Troup County School System Plans to Purchase Metal Detectors for Middle and High Schools

Posted at 11:17 a.m. on Tuesday, August 16, 2022

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with information that the Troup County School Board does not expect to vote on metal detectors Thursday night at its board meeting. Superintendent Brian Shumate said a task force has been formed and will guide TCSS in this decision.

The Troup County school system is considering purchasing metal detectors for all of its high schools and colleges and has formed a task force to guide its decision making.

Deputy Superintendent Chip Medders told the board during Monday’s business session that he had spoken to several vendors and hoped to have a more concrete pricing structure in place by Thursday. However, Superintendent Brian Shumate said Tuesday the school system wanted to make sure it made the right decision, meaning it didn’t want to rush a vote Thursday.

“We will take a break to ask the board for any purchase approvals as we need to do more research on the equipment after meeting with our committee,” Shumate said Tuesday afternoon.

Medders made it clear Monday that nothing is set in stone, but said TCSS is tentatively considering purchasing 26 metal detectors — five in each high school and three in each middle school — at an estimated cost of between $4,500 and 6. $000 each. Medders asked the board not to hold it at that exact price just yet, as it was still gathering information.

However, buying the metal detectors is only part of the discussion and only part of the cost. TCSS also needs to figure out how to use them effectively, i.e. get thousands of students through them and into class on time, and needs to find the staff to manage them.

“How do you get 1,400 kids at Troup High or 1,200 or 1,300 at LaGrange High School to be in the building at 8 a.m. and in class on time?” Medders said Monday night.

Medders said he was told by one of the most popular salespeople that it takes an hour to run 300 people through their metal detector.

Superintendent Brian Shumate was directly asked on Monday whether buying metal detectors would require more staff. He said that would be the case, although it was unclear how many new staff would be needed.

“You’re going to need at least one person working all day,” Shumate said. “So yes, it will require additional staff. You can do several stations in the morning, then once school starts, you close two or three and bring everything to the front door at that time.

Medders also said it was unclear how many people TCSS might need to man the metal detectors.

“So are we going to need 26 new staff?” Medders said. “Actually, I don’t know. Hopefully not 26 new ones. It all depends on how often the metal detector is used. Do you use them every time the bell rings? »

LaGrange Police Chief Lou Dekmar said the LPD currently provides six student resource officers, who are stationed at THINC College and Career Academy, Hope Academy, Troup High School, LaGrange High School and Gardner Newman Middle. School. Sheriff James Woodruff said the sheriff’s office currently provides three, with deputies stationed at Callaway High School, Callaway Middle School and Long Cane Middle School. He said there have been discussions about adding a rotating ORS for elementary schools in the future.

“The challenge is going to be that they have to be busy all the time,” Dekmar said of the metal detectors. “It would not be a role that the ORS would play. The SROs are not there to provide security all day at the gates, otherwise they will not be able to perform their other duties.

Dekmar said if the SROs were helping run the metal detectors, they might need to respond to something else going on in the school.

“If the SROs do the check, and there’s a disturbance or a fight and they get pushed away, you now have a security breach problem,” Dekmar said. “I mean, there’s a lot of moving parts in there than just a metal detector.”

Dekmar said the school system and the LPD have a great working relationship, and he expects the TCSS to move forward and there to be a more in-depth discussion about logistics.

“I know they are exploring it, but I expect that as we move from studying, discussing, to coming up with a final plan, there will be more engagement. “, said Dekmar. “The school is very good at coordinating safety and working with us on school assessments.”

He said that buying metal detectors would also not be a solution to all the security problems, because it would only be an additional layer and it would be important for the school system to continue with other measures. .

Woodruff said TCSO’s SROs could manage one metal detector but would not be able to manage multiple, if requested from the sheriff’s office.

“We already have an SRO that could be part of their assignment if that’s what the school wanted mornings and afternoons or whatever,” Woodruff said. “They didn’t tell me about us managing them or if they would provide someone to manage them.”

Mornings were seen as less of a logistical concern as faculty members would be available to help with traffic flow. But later in the day, when everyone is in the classrooms, students still come and go, especially in high schools.

Initially, at Monday’s meeting there was discussion about voting on metal detectors on Thursday, but Shumate said Tuesday that more information was needed before putting it to the board for a vote.

Jeremy S. McLain