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Montgomery County Schools Introduces Upgraded School Security System

Montgomery County Schools Introduces Upgraded School Security System

The updated system features front door electric access, additional video surveillance and improved panic buttons.

As summer winds down, teachers, students and parents alike can often feel overwhelmed by the flurry of activity that accompanies the start of a new year. But this year, families and staff members of Montgomery County Schools (MCS) have one less thing to worry about: the safety of their children.   

The protection of our students, teachers and staff members is a top priority for MCS. We are committed to taking every possible step towards creating a safe, welcoming environment in all of our facilities. That’s why we’re excited to kick off the 2018-19 school year by debuting updated, state-of-the-art security systems in all eight of the county’s elementary and middle schools.

The MCS Maintenance Department has spent the summer designing and fitting each school with new security measures that include personalized front door electric access systems, improved video surveillance systems and the installation of additional network-based panic buttons. These new systems and procedures will be ready to go on the first day of school on August 27th.

This project has been a collaborative effort between MCS Superintendent Dr. Dale Ellis, the Montgomery County Board of Education, local law enforcement and an array of staff and community members.

Bill Mingin, the Executive Director of Auxiliary Services for MCS, served as one of the heads of this new project.

“Our goal going into designing and installing these new systems was to make sure we understood and addressed each school’s specific needs,” Mingin said. “We met with staff members from each school to learn more about the layouts and current security systems. We evaluated where each school was and how we could get them where they needed to be security-wise. The hard work we saw and the tremendous amount of support we’ve received speaks volumes about this community and how highly we value the safety of our kids.”

The first and perhaps biggest step in our security upgrade was installing front door electric access systems. Starting in August, the front doors of all of our elementary and middle school facilities will remain locked throughout the day. School visitors will now be required to request entry via outside speaker call boxes. This will allow administrators to closely monitor and regulate who enters and exits our schools, as well as prevent unknown persons from gaining access.

The second phase of this project was to evaluate and update the video surveillance systems at each of the schools so that they met our heightened standards. The MCS Maintenance Department placed additional cameras at facilities that had existing systems, and more importantly, installed new video recording systems at locations that did not previously have any. Now, all eight elementary and middle schools in our system will be capable of recording video images of visiting guests.

The third major facet of our revamped system involves the amplification of our previously installed panic buttons. Each facility is now equipped with additional panic buttons that can contact local law enforcement through a 24-hour surveillance monitoring vendor. Existing building intercom systems were also checked to make sure vital information can be communicated within the building should an emergency arise.

Throughout this process, we also sought the input and expertise of local law enforcement agencies. They helped ensure that all of our facilities were properly evaluated and that our employees have the proper training to respond to any emergency.

Mount Gilead Chief of Police Pat Preslar served as a consultant for Mount Gilead Elementary School. He believes that strong relationships between law enforcement and schools and our updated security features are a big step in the right direction towards improving safety in MCS.

 “We understand that school security and the safety of our children can weigh heavily on the minds of parents and community members nationwide,” Preslar said. “That’s why our department is determined to work with parents, teachers, school staff members and others within our community to ensure our schools are a safe and secure place for students to grow and learn. Children are our most precious resource, and we need to do whatever it takes to keep them safe.”

Though we know these new initiatives will take some getting used to, we’re encouraged by the warm reception and support from many members of the MCS community. Stacey Crump, a Physical Education teacher at Star Elementary School and the mother of a rising 3rd grader and kindergartener, believes the new system will help provide parents and staff members alike with increased senses of confidence and comfortability. 

“This new system is a good example of how MCS and other members of our community are working together to do right by our kids,” Crump said. “As a teacher, knowing we will have more control over who enters our school gives me one less thing to worry about so I can focus on giving my students the attention and education they deserve. As a parent, it makes me feel more secure about leaving my kids at school. That added peace of mind is priceless.”

Araceli Medina Munoz, the mother of a rising 5th grader at Green Ridge Elementary, also feels encouraged by the additional security measures MCS is taking.

“As parents, the safety of our children is always a top priority. I’m elated to see our school system believes the same and that they are actively taking steps to keep our kids safe,” she said.  

Montgomery County Schools is—and always has been—committed to keeping students and staff members safe. We hope these new measures reassure parents who entrust us with their children that their well-being is our top priority. Should you as a parent, family member or guest visiting our community schools have any questions or concerns, we invite you to contact your school’s administrator.