2 schools in Hopewell will get security improvements
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Oct 9, 2013, 14:23
HOPEWELL — Due in part to a $6 million school security equipment grant from the state, Carter G. Woodson Middle School and Hopewell High School will get security upgrades which will be installed in the coming months.
At the beginning of September, 459 schools in 89 school divisions were awarded the grant. T. Patrick Barnes, supervisor of operations for Hopewell City Public Schools, applied for the grant earlier in the year. The school division received $61,567 for the two schools and have to match 25 percent of the funds, which is around $15,000.
In a statement from the Office of Gov. Bob McDonnell on Sept. 3, the governor expressed the need for added security to schools across the state.
“I can think of no more important legislative accomplishment than this investment in the safety and security of our students, teachers, principals, and other public school employees,” McDonnell said. “These grants, and the other important steps we’ve taken this year to improve school security, will make a real difference as we strive to make sure Virginia’s schools remain places where children can learn in safety.”
The money will go towards a new intercom system for Carter Woodson and new security cameras for Hopewell High.
“The intercom system is to the point that not all the classrooms hear what’s being said, which is a safety concern in a time of need that a message needs to be put out,” Barnes said.
Though not sure of the exact age of the current intercom system, Barnes estimated it has been several years since it has been replaced, noting that during the renovations to the school years ago, it was not done due to lack of funds available.
The replacement of the intercom system accounts for the majority of the cost, Barnes said, with about 75 percent of the total cost plus the matching funds going towards the project.
Hopewell High will be getting about 14 new security cameras to be put in places in and around the school where there is currently a lack of cameras.
“We did have some vandalism over the summer,” Barnes said, of which rocks were thrown through windows. “There were a couple occasions where we weren’t able to do anything about it because the coverage just wasn’t there.”
Currently, the division is working on a request for proposal for the security project. Once the RFP is sent out and a company is chosen for the project, the install process will begin. Barnes said the division has to foot the bill up front but will get reimbursed by the state, as per the grant specifications.
Barnes estimated the project for Hopewell High will not take long, but the intercom system for Carter Woodson could take up to a month. He said there is a three to four-week build time on the system and a two-week installation time; however classroom time will not be impacted as Barnes said the work will be completed in the evening.
Security remains a focus in the division as well as the state. Superintendent Dr. John Fahey said this grant will further improve the schools in the city.
“In my opinion safety is of the upmost importance here at Hopewell City Public Schools. This grant will help us replace some very obsolete equipment and make us better all around,” he said in a statement.
Barnes is also pleased with the awarding of grant, as he said both upgrades have been needed in the schools.
“The cameras will help us ... in the event that we need to be able to see, not only for day-to-day coverage of hallways and things of that nature, from the central office standpoint to be able to see the building at night and weekends when no one’s around and hopefully be able to deter some of the vandalism that we have had,” Barnes said. “The PA system is an absolute home run win for us in that it needed to be replaced, with funding being the issue and now we only have to do 25 percent of the total funds.”
Though no exact date has been set for the installation of the new security equipment, Barnes said from the time the contract is awarded to completion of the projects, should be about six weeks. He is hoping to have both projects completed by the Christmas holiday.