A new multi-million-dollar safety plan has just been approved for some Duval County Schools.
The school board voted yes to spend almost $9 million on metal detectors for all high schools. For Duval County Public Schools board members, it was a quick yes vote with all 7 board members in favor.
Duval County Public Schools said this was necessary because it adds an extra layer of security to your child’s classroom.
The metal detectors made by Evolv’s Technology Express will be in all 19 DCPS high schools, costing the district $8.7 million dollars. It’ll be paid for with capitol money.
DCPS Chairman Darryl Willie explains why the county is focusing on high schools.
“A lot of the time when we do find weapons on campus, it’s generally in our high schools,” Willie said.
As far as Duval’s elementary and middle schools DCPS Police Chief Greg Burton said officers will continue to do security checks with wands.
In addition to the metal detectors there will be cameras, extra lighting, fences and badges required to enter and exit the building.
DCPS thinks these metal detectors are good for a number of reasons. One being that students won’t have to empty their pockets or bags while being screened. Instead, these metal detectors can actually show where exactly a weapon might be located on a body.
DCPS said the old security screenings where kids got wanded took too long and made kids late to class. But now students can now get to class 40% faster. As far as the wands used in high schools, they won’t be thrown away -- they’ll be recycled and used for high school football games instead.
“We have to do the backpacks, any other lunch boxes that students may bring in, as well as wanding their bodies, so that’s what we have to do,” Burton said.
Now each high school in Duval has a different number of entrances, so each school will have a different number of metal detectors and security guards. Some schools will have entrances that’ll remain closed to help with school shortages so that every entrance and exit can be properly monitored.
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At this time, it’s not clear exactly when all 19 high schools will have the metal detectors because supply chain issues are still a timely factor. DCPS Chief of Marketing and Public Relations Tracy Pierce said we must also keep in mind the time it’ll take to schedule the metal detectors’ installations.
DCPS said it will spend 5 years paying for these metal detectors starting in 2023 to 2026. They’ll be paid for in 4 annual payments; after that, DCPS will own the metal detectors.
At the end of the day DCPS and Chief Burton want the public to know that they are taking our children’s mental health into consideration as they install these metal detectors, saying they want school to be a safe place but to never feel like a prison.