Plan to upgrade security in Balto. Co. schools under way

On the same day Perry Hall High School student Robert Gladden pleaded guilty to attempted murder in the shooting of a classmate at the start of the 2012-13 school year, members of the Baltimore County Board of Education were told the school system is on its way to implementing a safety plan that emerged after that incident.

Baltimore County Public Schools is implementing a three-phase plan to make all schools secure. On Tuesday, Dale Rauenzahn, the system's executive director of school safety and security, told board members that more than 80 percent of the first phase is done.

Rauenzahn said the first phase has included 192 projects identified by school personnel — from repairing exterior doors that didn't properly lock to installing security camera systems at elementary and special education schools, as well as installing electronic entry systems for the 13 county high schools that currently lack them.

Rauenzahn said all but one project in that first phase — a visitor identification system that scans state ID cards to search sex offender databases — will be funded by a $3.7 million appropriated from the county, approved by the County Council earlier this month. The visitor ID system will be funded by reallocated school system money, Rauenzahn said.

Phase two, which will be funded in part by a $2.5 million request to the county and would be implemented during the 2013-14 school year, call for implementing a "one-card" identification for students and staff. The final phase, planned for the 2014-15 school year, will upgrade middle and high school security camera systems already in place.

Rauenzahn told the board there was no explicit priority how security upgrades would be distributed among schools, but the main emphasis has been to make sure all schools have the same minimum security measures.

Superintendent S. Dallas Dance formed the safety and security office within the school system in the wake of the Perry Hall shooting and other gun related incidents earlier in the school year.

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