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Georgia lawmakers OK $30,000 for safety spending at each public school
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Zack Marley, school resource officer at West Hall High School, takes a position at the front of the school moments before students leave for the day Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. Hall County spent several hundred thousand dollars this year to expand security measures at all schools. - photo by Scott Rogers

Each public school in the state is poised to receive $30,000 to improve security measures on its campuses after the Georgia House of Representatives approved a mid-year budget adjustment on Feb. 8.

Lawmakers OK’d spending $192 million more for the current 2019 fiscal year thanks to better-than-expected revenues, and the funding also supports ongoing disaster relief efforts in for South Georgia farmers devastated by Hurricane Michael last fall.

The one-time allocation adds up to about $70 million for Georgia’s 2,294 public schools.

Gainesville City Schools will receive about $240,000 for six elementary schools, and a middle and a high school.

Superintendent Jeremy Williams said the school district is in the process of installing “card readers” on nearly every exterior door, while also looking to furnish all main school offices with lockdown technology and “buzzers” to allow visitors in and out.

Williams said a particular focus of upgrades was being directed at local elementary schools and Gainesville Middle.

And improvements to the large and spread out Gainesville High campus, such as ways to improve monitoring access from the many points of entry, will also be a focus of this new funding, Williams said.

Meanwhile, Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said improving security in elementary schools is also priority.

Hall County will receive about $1.1 million in added funding for its schools as a result of the mid-year adjustment.

Adding security cameras at all elementary schools in high on the priority list, Schofield said, as is expanding quick-alert systems, which have been installed at Johnson High and the cluster of schools located around it.

Whereas fear of violence in schools was once largely relegated to high schools and older students, Schofield said “all bets are off” these days, adding that threats can come from anywhere to any place.

The mid-year budget adjustment also includes $8 million for mental health resources in high schools as more and more districts look to provide support services for students and their families.

“It’s another one of those issues that whatever is provided is appreciated, but it’ll never be enough,” Schofield said.


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