By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools officials continue to review the potential of instituting a weapon detection system (metal detectors or wands) in the schools to improve safety.
“There’s not been a decision on metal detectors or wands. We’re still researching them,” said Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner.
The weapons detection system would be just part of the long and short term steps the district is taking to enhance safety and security for its students and staff. (Visit https://www.columbusmessenger.com/safety-measures-progressing-in-groveport-madison-schools.html for more information on the long and short term safety measures.)
The actions are being taken due to incidents of violence and other issues that have taken place in the high school.
At the Groveport Madison Board of Education’s Jan. 18 meeting, Deputy Superintendent Paul Smathers presented options and costs for weapon detection systems.
“It’s important that we focus and take our time to make a really good informed decision,” said Smathers. “Don’t let it be emotional. We have to do the right things for the right reasons for the right people, and that’s our students and staff.”
Smathers added that, if a school environment is not safe, it is difficult to educate students.
He said district officials need to weigh the use, cost, implementation, training, policies, additional staff needed, administrative guidelines, and processes and procedures involved with metal detection devices. He also said district officials must work with attorneys to verify and clarify liability situations.
Options Smathers presented to the board were:
•a Garrett Super Scanner hand/wand metal detector at a cost of $224 each. He said 30 would be needed: 12 at the high school, six at the elementaries, six for the middle schools, two for the district offices, one at Li’l Cruiser, and three for back up.
•an Evolv Technology walk through weapon detectors at a cost of $24,000 each under a three year lease agreement.
•a CEIA portable walk through metal detection and weapon detection at a cost of $16,000 each.
Smathers advised the board that officials need more time to find schools similar to Groveport Madison that use metal/weapon detector systems and see how well they work at those schools.
Board member Kathy Walsh wants to see the board take action on the issue soon.
“If it costs $300,000 or $200,000 a year and we stop weapons from going into the high school and it keeps our students and staff safe it’s worth it,” said Walsh. “It’s just worth it. It’s a no brainer.”
Board member Chris Snyder said the cost of the Evolv Technology system seemed “exorbitant.”
“Cost is the biggest thing to deal with,” said Snyder. “We have to make an informed decision. These systems are not guaranteed to work 100 percent of the time. We have to determine if these systems actually make it safer and whether they are affordable or not. Also, the issue is not cut and dry, some people (in the community) are for having the metal detectors and some are not.”
District officials will present the board with more information regarding the potential use of metal detectors/weapon detection systems at a future board meeting.
I’m all for the metal detectors, our kids need to be safe. I’d rather hear about a fight in school than a person has a gun or knife. No reason for a gun or knife on school property other than police having them