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Posted: February 20, 2014 10:00 p.m.

BOE to purchase emergency devices for schools

The Newton County School System is continuing its security efforts to protect students.

The Board of Education at its Tuesday meeting approved the purchase of pendant transmitter -type panic devices for all school system buildings. The devices will alert Banner Security Systems, of Conyers, to notify the Covington-Newton County 911 Center for an immediate response from law enforcement.

Jan Loomans, director of operational services for Newton County Schools, presented a recommendation to the Board for the purchase of the devices, which have an estimated total cost of $57,150. Loomans said the funds will come from the maintenance budget.

In the recommendation, school system officials noted that the devices would be purchased in an effort to provide safer learning environments for the school system’s students and personnel.

Two pendant transmitter type panic devices will be placed in each of the school system’s buildings. The devices will integrate directly with the school system’s fire and intrusion alarm system that is monitored by Banner Security Systems, Loomans said.

In a phone interview Thursday, Loomans said school administrators at each school will decide who is responsible for each device during school hours. She said, "Our thinking, from an administrative standpoint, is that (it would be) someone in the front office or in the building who’s going to come in contact with visitors where someone comes in the front office or through the front door and is doing something they shouldn’t be doing."

For after-school activities, Loomans said the principal can transfer the device to whomever is in charge during those activities.

She said one of the main reasons for the device is to have a direct line of contact to law enforcement in the case of an intruder being in the building, or any other type of emergency situation.

During the BOE meeting, board member Eddie Johnson asked if the devices were any different from what the school system is already using with teachers (ViewPath technology.)

Last year, the school system installed the ViewPath Systems — a fully integrated audio-video system, in Newton County’s middle and high schools, at a cost of more than $2 million. Loomans explained the devices are not a part of the ViewPath System.

"ViewPath is for the teachers to get help in their classroom or while walking around the school if they see something.... ViewPath goes right to the front office and this system goes straight to our monitoring system (Banner Security Systems), who will then go and immediately call 9-1-1—no questions asked," Loomans said. "Right now when an alarm goes off, they (administrators) try to get in touch with somebody (through a telephone call from front office personnel)."

After a 4-0 vote, the Board approved the purchase of the pendant transmitter type panic devices from Banner Security Systems. Johnson abstained from the vote.

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