USD 475 to try new intruder alert system

USD 475 board Vice President Dr. Anwar Khoury (left) and board member David Walker discuss school district business during Monday night's meeting.

Unified School District 475 officials will be trying out a new intruder alert system at Junction City High School.

USD 475 Chief Operating Officer David Wild discussed a proposal to implement the SafeDefend violent intruder alert system during Monday night’s board meeting. The system utilizes fingerprint technology that allows staff to trigger an alarm during a violent intruder situation.

“Any staff member can touch this device in a hallway, and it will immediately send an alarm notifying everybody in the building where that alarm was initiated,” Wild said. “It will notify law enforcement. It will also notify staff here at the Larry Dixon Center that there is an intruder emergency.”

Each classroom would have a safe, and any time the alarm was triggered, safes would be unlocked. They would contain mace devices.

“It will allow each teacher to shoot a mace stream up to 50 feet,” Wild said.

The system would also feature a window-breaking tool and a flashing strobe light to confuse intruders, Wild said.

The total cost of the SafeDefend system would be $241,725. It would be paid for with a matching grant, with the state covering $120,000 and the school district covering the rest of the amount. The system would be installed in all high school facilities, including the main campus, the Larry Dixon Center and the Freshman Success Academy. Since the district is building a new high school, board Vice President Dr. Anwar Khoury asked about the system’s mobility.

“If we take this to the new high school, is it going to need to be bigger?” Khoury asked. “I mean, it’s a bigger high school. Is that going to be more expenses that we have to consider once they move it?”

Wild said the system is designed to be moved, and the new high school’s construction would not require any size upgrades to the system.

“The new high school will probably actually downsize (it) when you consider that we’re using it at the main campus, the Freshman Success Academy and the Larry Dixon Center,” Wild said. “If we take it out of the Freshman Success Academy and the high school, we’ll probably have more than enough modules.”

Khoury asked about whether the system would be utilized in elementary schools and the middle school. Wild said the intent would be to pilot the program for two years, and then evaluate the system and any other future uses for it.

“If the board believes this is the way to go, we would certainly look at deploying it throughout all of the schools in the district,” Wild said. “We chose the secondary schools first because we figure that’s probably where our most critical need is.”

Board member Rina D. Neal asked if SafeDefend will provide training.

“They will provide staff training,” Wild said. “We’re hoping to start deploying this as early as the end of this coming semester, and hopefully get some staff training in before the end of the school year.”

Board members approved the installation of the SafeDefend system, and it will be piloted within high school facilities for two years.

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