Atlanta Metro Schools Upgrade Safety Systems

By Aziza Jackson

ATLANTA — As students begin to head back to school, safety and security concerns are among some school district officials’ top growing priorities and concerns across the Atlanta Metro area.

The Fulton County school district, for example, is investing in Avigilon, a high-tech video surveillance system that will be installed in over 105 public school buildings at a cost of $4.6 million, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“The basic idea is to have one place to collaborate on emergency situations,” said Paul Hildreth, safety coordinator for Fulton County Schools, to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Safety comes in all forms — weather advisories, traffic alerts, as well as criminal activity.”

In addition to adding video surveillance, emergency alert systems, and more police and safety officers in Atlanta Metro school districts, recent construction projects like those in DeKalb County have incorporated several safety and security features across the district.

Fulton County is reportedly the fourth-largest school district in the state and has the funds for Avigilon’s elaborate system, but safety is an expense for all Metro school districts regardless of size. Some districts, like Gwinnett, Clayton and Henry counties, added more school police officers. Others like DeKalb County, which is Georgia’s third-largest school system, have invested $15 million in safety and security improvements in schools across their district.

Twenty metal detectors will be installed initially in five high schools throughout the district via a pilot program: Cross Keys High School (Region 1), Lakeside High School (Region 2), Stone Mountain High School (Region 3), Martin Luther King Jr. High School (Region 4), Towers High School (Region 5).

DeKalb County is investing $230 million into new facilities and additions, which will include two new elementary schools, in order to counter overcrowding in what is known as the Cross Keys Cluster, according to its website.

According to DCSD board meeting notes, the new construction of school buildings now includes roll-down doors that help to increase security if a non-authorized individual enters the school premises.

A report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.