Hall County school officials are expanding a silent alarm network and other emergency communication systems after a pilot project in one school met the standards and goals desired as the focus on school safety intensifies.
“It’s performing exactly as we expected it to,” Aaron Turpin, executive director of technology for the school district, told the school board at a meeting on Monday, April 23.
Hall County Schools is spending about $150,000 in all for a new initiative to improve safety in local elementary, middle and high schools in the wake of a deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February.
The school district will add new security monitors at schools, as well as equipping resource officers with new stun guns.
Officials said they believe the silent alarm system is one of a kind in Georgia public schools, providing better response times using direct lines of communication between local law enforcement agencies and the school district’s transportation unit during active situations.
Officials said they would now expand the technology to other schools.
The silent alarms are similar to what might be found in a courthouse or bank. They can alert authorities to specific buildings where threats are reported on a school campus.
Gainesville Deputy Police Chief Jay Parrish said rapid communication “is of the essence” if such situations were to arise.
Hall County already applies significant financial resources to providing safety at local schools, from security cameras and active-shooter trainings to identification cards for entry; drug dogs and random searches; security vestibules for visitors to enter through; as well as counseling resources.
There are also school resource officers at each middle and high school in the county district. Additionally, a policy is no longer in place that once required officers to wait on backup before responding in a shooting incident.