Security upgrades coming to Johnsonville schools

JOHNSONVILLE, SC (WMBF) - Florence School District 5 officials recently announced they will spend more than $300,000 in security upgrades at its schools.

The district's superintendent, Randy Smiley, said with the frequency of school shootings – the most recent being the massacre that claimed the lives of 17 people in Parkland, Fla., - security upgrades are more urgent now than ever.

"We're on Highway 51, 41. People come through here all the time," Smiley said. "You just never know what may happen, but you always need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario because that way if it happens, God forbid, we will be as prepared as we can be."

Parents in the area said the recent events have them worried about their local schools.

"You shouldn't have to fear for your baby's safety when they're at school," Leigh Taylor said. That's when they should be the most safe."

All school entrances will now a have buzz-in system, while secondary doors will require a pass key for access. Along with secure entrances, state-of-the-art cameras will be installed in and around the schools. Administrators and law enforcement will be able to log into them remotely.

"It's definitely a sense of relief that they are constantly taking precautions to upgrade and to, you know, to make safety more of a priority," Anne DeCamp said.

Still, the parents said something more needs to be done. When it comes to preventative measures, they feel district officials need to think outside the box by going inside the schools.

"They [teachers] are our front lines of defense I think," DeCamp said. "They can spot the children that are stressed out, who are having problems emotionally."

"Until we have metal detectors that are going to deter this and until we have resource officers at every school level, there's going to be a problem," Taylor said.

While Johnsonville district officials and parents said more upgrades may come at a hefty price, protecting a child's life is priceless.

"I think at this time you just have to be vigilant and you have to go above and beyond even what you think is necessary to keep the kids safe," DeCamp said.

Smiley expects the upgrades to be complete within the next six weeks.

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