School door buzzer system a hit

Monday, June 15, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

GUILFORD — A door buzzer system of the type tried at Abraham Baldwin Middle School may be used at other schools, school officials said recently.

The school district just completed a pilot program using the buzzers at Baldwin. Superintendent of Schools Thomas Forcella told the Board of Education last week that school officials had received positive feedback from parents and staff at Baldwin since installing the buzzers earlier this spring. The system will stay in place at the middle school, Forcella said.

The buzzer system requires visitors to ring a bell at the front door and front-office employees to allow them to enter the building. It is part of an overall upgrade of security technology at the district’s schools, including multiple security cameras in place at each school.

Forcella said the buzzer system could be useful at Elisabeth C. Adams Middle School or Guilford High School, where officials have long said they were concerned about the main doors not being visible from the front offices. Adams now has nearly 20 security cameras in place, Forcella said.

“One of the schools we’re most concerned about is Adams, because there’s absolutely no visibility at the entrance,” he said. “Anyone could walk in and be anywhere in the building without being noticed.”

Voters recently approved spending $998,750 on various health and safety improvements at Adams, money that could be used for security upgrades, Forcella said. The previous work had been paid for with $50,000 in the 2008-09 budget and a $12,000 state grant.

Security concerns came to the forefront this school year when six laptops were stolen from three district schools. A parent has been charged with the crime.

“It really gave us cause to think about how easy it is to access some of our buildings,” Forcella said.

While the system at Baldwin required a few adjustments on the part of front-office staff at first, Forcella said it proved “quite simple.” He said that the school had also asked parents to fill out responses, which were mainly positive.

“It is about keeping our students safe,” he said.

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