Kershaw County School District (KCSD) Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins used part of the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees Jan. 22 meeting to report on ongoing efforts to standardize and revamp school safety protocols across the district. Robbins said he took information from the board and Kershaw County Council’s ad hoc committee and has been trying to couple it with things the district is doing on those fronts with both the newly finished replacement schools and other construction projects.
“The first thing is access control,” Robbins said. “As we talk about how we harden our buildings, making our buildings (safer), it’s all about ‘preventative’ -- how we access our buildings. Right now, it’s across the board, depending on what school you go in.”
Robbins said he went into a school a week ago and was able to walk in the front door and into the front office and said, “Hi,” without having to go through any kind of security check.
“That’s not what are procedures, what our protocols are. When you come to Camden Elementary (where trustees held the Jan. 22 meeting), if you don’t have an ID badge that gives you access, you have to push a button that rings the front office. Your picture comes up on that secretary’s screen. She’s going to ask you what your business is. At that point, she’ll decide if she’s going to let you in. It also snaps a picture of you. You go into the lobby, you use our Ident-A-Kid, swipe your ID, it runs a check on you and you request what child you’re going to pick up. It double checks to make sure that you’re on the list to pick that child up. Or, if you’re there to visit the building, it prints out a badge for you, you put the sticker on and then she or he is going to allow you into the building.”
Robbins said that there are still some buildings that “are not all the way there” when it comes to these protocols due to technical upgrades, including wiring for exterior cameras and access controls. He said he is meeting with KCSD Director of Operations Billy Smith, Chief Financial Officer Donnie Wilson and Technology Operations Coordinator Kerry Morgan on a bi-weekly basis.
“(That’s) to see where we are in the process and to make sure that 100 percent of our buildings are using those standards that we expect,” Robbins said.
We’re doing all those things to try to make sure that we’re operating in a safe environment, as safe as we can possibly make it.KCSD Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins
Robbins also said he wants to make sure there are standard responses to the various types of emergencies -- from tornadoes to active shooters -- at each of the district’s schools.
“It really simplifies it into lock out, lock down, shelter and evacuate -- four things. On the back of every teacher’s ID, they will have a minimized copy of that … it’s, honestly, what hospitals use,” Robbins said. “We’re doing all those things to try to make sure that we’re operating in a safe environment, as safe as we can possibly make it.
The final piece of Robbins’ security discussion focused on school resource officers (SROs).
“Before I came here (tonight), I had a meeting with Sheriff (Lee) Boan and Mr. Smith and we talked about SROs. Where are our gaps, what are the things that we can do to make sure we can fill those gaps to ensure covering all of our school buildings appropriately,” he said, adding that part of his responsibility as superintendent is to oversee safety.
Robbins said the district is “probably” going to switch from the Ident-A-Kid system currently being used in the district for visitor management to one called LobbyGuard. He said LobbyGuard is “much better.”
But, he said, “Here’s the thing: With increased safety and security, it does come with a small level of inconvenience.”
The good news is that the district applied for and is receiving a $100,000 safety grant. Robbins said he drafted the grant so that it would help with infrastructure needs for LobbyGuard, cameras and access control with a little bit left over for SROs for equipment (such as walkie-talkies) and training.
“I’m hoping it’s going to be a year-to-year thing. The governor said he wants to put more money -- he wants SROs in the buildings. Well, it can’t be just an unfunded mandate, so I’m hoping he’s going to step up to the plate in the budget cycle and provide us with some money to do that, too,” Robbins said.
Robbins said that LobbyGuard, which is being piloted at Lugoff-Elgin High School, has a way, when certain protocols are enacted, to send the exact location within a building where an active emergency is taking place to dispatchers to send out to responders so they know where to go.
Robbins noted that each school is different, so while protocols themselves may be standardized across the district, those responses may be structured based on how different buildings are constructed.
Also during the Jan. 22 meeting, Robbins talked with trustees about a survey he conducted concerning school zone boundaries, especially in regard to the North Central area of the county. He cautioned trustees that he is looking to provide options to the board that are based “on facts, not feelings” and “doing what’s best for the kids” in that area.
“I’m going to look at curriculum, I’m going to look at transportation. I’m going to look at facilities. I’m going to look at cost-avoidance,” Robbins said. “I’m going to look at cost factors to do each one of those options that we look at, and then what I’ll do is present it to you and we’ll use it as a decision-making matrix and you’re going to label ‘1,’ ‘2’ and ‘3’ in every one of those categories and then it’s pretty much going to help you make your decision as a board.”
Robbins said he would present that information at the board’s next facilities/finance committee meeting.
In other business:
• Board Chairman James Smith administered the oath of office to reelected Trustee Dr. Don Copley, and administered an oath to Trustee Derrick Proctor, whose fellow trustees reelected him to the post of board chaplain.
• Trustees unanimously approved the 2019-2020 school calendar preferred by the district calendar committee.
• Trustees unanimously approved a facility rental waiver for the Kershaw County Amateur Radio Club to continue using a portion of the building that also houses the Jackson Teen Center on York Street.
• Trustees also unanimously approved a 50 percent facility waiver for Princess P Pageantry to use Blaney Elementary School on Saturday.
• Trustees entered executive session to discuss undisclosed employment matters. When they returned to open session, they voted unanimously to accept the administration’s recommendations on those matters, with the exception of “Employee A.”