By Rick Rouan
The district will install 36 color cameras and new locks at some of the buildings.
BOARDMAN — The township police force is so depleted that the number of school buildings in Boardman sometimes outnumbers the police officers charged with protecting them, according to a federal grant proposal.
That is one reason the school system was awarded a $67,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant to add more cameras and new classroom locks to some school buildings. The school district wrote the grant with the help of Boardman police.
The grant stipulates that the district must match the $67,000 award to complete the $134,000 project in the next year, said Wendy Carothers, coordinator of special programs.
“The good news is we spend so much on security anyway, but [this will] free up more funding for the district,” Carothers said.
Boardman High School and Boardman Center Middle School both will receive new locks that lock from the inside without a key and from the outside with a key, according to the grant proposal. The district will install 36 interior and exterior color cameras with digital-video recorders in Glenwood Middle School and the four elementary schools.
New locks are necessary because the current system locks only from the outside, Carothers said. If an intruder entered a building and the school were locked down, finding keys before going outside to lock the door might take too long.
The locks had to be approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Carothers said, so a standard bolt lock would not suffice.
Those special locks are more expensive than regular locks. The grant proposal estimates the locks will cost more than $270, not including labor to install them.
“When you have a lockdown, the fact that somebody can come into your classroom doesn’t make sense to me,” Carothers said. “This is going to change that.”
The additional cameras, Carothers said, will shed light on some blind spots in smaller hallways.
In the past, criminals have entered the school building to steal money and computers, and angry parents have stormed directly to classrooms, according to the grant proposal.
But the new locks and cameras, coupled with safety measures the school district took with a similar grant in 2005, should help curb those problems, Carothers said.
In 2005, the district received about $63,000 toward a $126,000 project to install magnetic locks, key-card access and additional cameras in schools.
“We saw such a change, I guess, in discipline and the way kids acted in the halls,” Carothers said of the first grant. “It started a big change in our district. I can’t wait to see what this does.”
The grant requires the locks and cameras to be installed within one year, Carothers said.
The first step for the district is to publicly bid the work, said Jim Massey, director of operations.
Massey said the work will be completed throughout the school year.