Knox Co. Superintendent's plan to check every school security system

By: Conroy Delouche Email
By: Conroy Delouche Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - School security is still a hot-button issue for parents across the country.

The topic was addressed again in a Knox County School Board work session tonight.

At the last meeting, the board said they wanted every school security system checked.

Superintendent Jim McIntyre revealed his plan tonight for all 88 Knox County schools to be examined by SimplexGrinnell.

The contractor will be looking at three things: the security alarm systems, video camera systems, and keyless entry systems.

Dr. McIntyre says the checks can only happen at night and on weekends, so the process will take time.

Phase one will start as soon as possible, and will include 27 schools, three in each district. They will be randomly selected, and the cost will be about $16,000.

The other 61 schools will be checked this summer during Phase Two, which will cost roughly $32,000.

Dr. McIntyre says money in the system will be pulled from other areas of the remaining budget.

He's confident the security systems are working, but checking them will set minds at ease.

But there are other safety concerns. Chair of the School Board Karen Carson says more should be done protecting kids and preventing crime.

"So my frustration is, for two weeks our focus has been on the security of the building. I don't want to discount that, but my focus has got to be what are we going to do for our kids while they're in school," said Carson.

"The safety of our children is something we take extraordinarily seriously. It's something that as a parent and an educator, I think about and work toward everyday is to make sure our kids are safe in our schools," said Dr. McIntyre.

The superintendent also repeated his call for armed officers at every school, which will be addressed again.

The schools in Phase One have not been selected, but two will include Powell Middle school and Hardin Valley Academy.

Flaws in the security systems installed at those schools by the previous contractor are the root of this hot-button issue. The person at the center of the investigation, Schools Director of Security Steve Griffin, is still on administrative leave.

A community forum on school security is set for March 5 at Amherst Elementary. Everyone is welcome to attend.

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