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Akron Public Schools to install over $3.5 million in security equipment

Akron Public Schools to install over $3.5 million in security equipment

Akron Public Schools to install over $3.5 million in security equipment

AKRON, Ohio – On Dec. 12, the Akron Public School (APS) district announced it would be spending more than $3.5 million in safety and security upgrades during a six-hour-long Board of Education meeting.

In addressing the board, Reva Link, a part-time family liaison for APS, told members that cell phones had become a problem for security at the school as students were using the devices to organize fights. She implored the board to address the issue by banning or putting tight restrictions on their use during school hours. “It’s the major cause of disruption, distraction, and violence in our buildings. It also leaves the staff in an ongoing alert mode to dispel fights, conduct investigations, and issue disciplines which prevents or limits them from focusing on educating and the managing of the building. Students with cell phones now have the power and control that they’re not mature enough to handle,” she said.

Board President N.J. Akbar reassured parents, educators, and other public commentators that their voices were being heard. “The first thing I want to say is that I think as this board has had many discussions, we want you to know that not only are we hearing you, but we acknowledge that there’s more that we can and must do, and there are things that we are definitely going to do in this district,” he said.  

One of those plans came to fruition that evening with the board voting to make use of over $3.5 million in K-12 Safety Grants or ESSER funds in order to fund security upgrades and new hardware for the district. Chief Operations Officer Stephen Thompson gave a presentation on the proposed upgrades that would see improvements to door alarms, metal and weapons detectors, bag x-ray machines, and surveillance camera upgrades which Thompson said were very necessary. “Currently our camera systems are failing across the district,” he said. “Some of them show pictures upside down, some of them are grainy. We’re operating on about eight different camera systems and old software, and old servers mixed in with new cameras and camera systems.” Thompson stated that camera replacements will be made across the district and in all buildings. The replacement and maintenance of the cameras will be handled by Southeast Security operating on a three-year contract. Installation of the cameras were set to begin in the spring of 2023 and expected a year for the project to be completed. That district would begin installing and using the metal detectors by mid-February with bag scanners to begin use later in the spring.

The board voted 5-2 in favor of the agenda item. The full video can be found on the district's YouTube page.


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