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Guilford County Schools Adding 7,500 Security Cameras

North Carolina's third largest school district is installing new video cameras, upgrading existing ones in schools and buses, and expanding the use of high-speed body scanners from high schools to middle schools.

Security Camera
(TNS) — More than 1,800 video cameras in schools in Guilford County and nearly 600 on Guilford County Schools buses have been upgraded with advanced technology, and more than 7,500 new video cameras are being provided for installation in schools for the coming school year, a school system safety official said.

Mike Richey, GCS's assistant superintendent for school safety and emergency management, updated the Guilford County Board of Education on Tuesday on a range of projects to improve school safety.

Among the schools where camera installation and testing most recently was completed was T.W. Andrews High School, he said.

As GCS expands the use of high-speed body scanners from the high schools to the middle schools this summer, 18 of the units used this past year at high schools will be moved to middle schools, he said. They will be replaced at the high schools with more portable versions of the scanners that will be able to be easily moved to large sporting events to screen crowds there.

Asked by board member Crissy Pratt whether the high school scanners had prevented any problems, Richey said that it's hard to measure, but the number of firearms found on campuses dropped from eight in the 2021-22 school year to four in 2022-23. Two of the four were caught by the scanners.

"We never know for sure if we prevented anything," he said.

Additional projects that are planned for the coming school year include work to build security-enhanced vestibules at school entrances, updating classroom door locks and stadium security upgrades, he said.

In other business, the school board voted 6-2 — Linda Welborn and Crissy Pratt voted no, and board member Betty Jenkins was absent — to instruct GCS staff to complete the purchase of more than 27 acres at the southwest corner of S. Bunker Hill and Boylston roads in the Colfax area for more than $2.5 million for the proposed Katherine G. Johnson School for Science and Mathematics.

The board also approved extending contracts to four mental health service providers — Daybreak, Peculiar Counseling, Stepping Stone Group and E-Therapy LLC — for the 2023-24 school year to expand in-person and virtual services provided to students and staff, funded by a $14.8 million School-Based Mental Health Grant and federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding.

Since on-demand therapy for students and staff launched in winter of the 2022-23 school year, 1,538 students received 8,250 sessions of therapy, and 294 staff received 2,214 sessions. At Tuesday's meeting, the board also approved the hiring of four new mental health clinicians.

The board also approved the appointment of several new principals, including Elizabeth Callicutt as principal at Allen Jay Elementary following the retirement of principal Carla Flores-Ballesteros on Sept. 1. Since 2019, Callicutt has served as principal of Charles England Elementary in Lexington City Schools, where she was principal of the year in 2022.

©2023 The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.