Funding available for school safety improvements

Published: Nov. 10, 2010 at 1:19 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2010 at 1:55 PM EST
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Conway, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - The Horry County School District is implementing a new 24-hour hotline for students to report problems at their schools. The hotline will be in operation in one or two weeks.

School Board members and school district administrators discussed the hotline at a meeting Monday night, which was focused on school security. The school board had asked for an update on security after gunfire rang out inside Socastee High School in September. There have also been other threats of violence at Horry County schools this fall.

Since then metals detectors are now being used at the middle and high schools every day, but school administrators have been considering other ways to add to school security. The hotline is the result of that effort.

Parent Chrissy Berimlow in Carolina Forest said she likes the idea.

"That way children and parents have an outlet," she commented.

Horry County School District administrators are also considering additional training about bullying. Currently every school employee takes computer-based bullying training at the beginning of every year. The program helps employees identify bullying and know how to handle it.

The additional training may include certified trainers presenting more bullying information at schools.

"I am very excited about that," said parent Kristine Lindaberry. "I think it's very needed."

The hotline will cost about $4,000 a year, and it is too early to know how much the extra bullying training would cost. However, administrators say grants may be available to pay for it. If not, the cost is not expected to be so high that it would require cuts elsewhere. Although the budget is tight, they say safety is a priority.

"There's a budget in my department that we could use for that, or other moneys that are available for safety," explained James Bradley, the school district's Executive Director of Student Affairs. "You can't put a price on safety. We have to take care of the safety needs in order to focus on the academic."

Berimlow said she agrees with Bradley's stance on the security measures. She said any safety improvement could be easily justified.

"I'm pretty confident in our schools district, and I think they would be able to sit down and examine their costs and see where they would be able to fit this in because I do think it's really important."

Horry County Police have also offered a hotline that will link callers directly to the school resource officers. The school district plans to implement that hotline also. Horry County Police may also become a third-party security resource for the district. Administrators are also considering hiring a third-party security consultant to examine the schools more regularly. The cost and effectiveness of that idea has not been determined, so it is still up for discussion the administrators and the school board.

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