Horry County Schools officials learned Monday that the district’s newest safety measure soon will be greeting people at each school’s front door.
Daryl Brown, executive director of security for Horry County Schools, said that in the next few weeks, door buzzer systems will be installed at all schools, just one of the measures the district has taken since a school shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in December, where 20 students and six staff members were killed.
“We take the safety of our schools, our students and the public very seriously,” Brown told the board, but said the majority of the district’s security plans could not be disclosed publicly because of safety issues.
Brown said that safety is of the utmost importance, however, the district still wants to strike a balance and make sure its facilities remain a welcoming place for the community.
Elementary school parents at 12 of the district’s 26 elementary schools received letters last week about finding more controlled access at those school buildings. Teal Harding, HCS spokeswoman, said the move was to try and achieve more uniformity in procedures at those facilities. District officials said the new systems will require everyone to be buzzed into a school.
During the meeting Brown also outlined some safety measures that are currently in place in the district, including crisis management plans at each school that are unique to each campus and include drills for a variety of scenarios – fire, intruders, bomb threats – which are practiced and continually updated.
He said each building also has an intervention plan for students on how to report bullying; the district has an anonymous tip line, 915-SROS; surveillance cameras are in place and are being upgraded; and random drug searches are continuing at middle and high schools.
The district also will continue to have school resource officers at middle and high schools, Brown said. The district will continue to require the daily use of metal detectors at middle and high schools, and wands once per quarter at elementary schools.
Since December, all crisis management plans have been audited, and Brown said there have been brainstorming sessions on additional security enhancements.
He said suggestions have come from parents and community members, and some of those have been acted on. Meetings also are being held with law enforcement agencies, as well as with the S.C. Highway Patrol, about crisis management, training and having more of their presence around school sites to strengthen security.
Also Monday board members they will interview five candidates who filed applications and are eligible for the open District 3 seat.
They are Blair Davis, Lorraine Mallon, Myers Rollins Jr., Jimmy Washington and Raymond Winters. Interviews are to be held and the new representative is to be elected by majority vote at the board’s Feb. 11 work session and sworn in at the Feb. 25 board meeting.
The District 3 seat represents Carolina Forest and Myrtle Beach, and was previously held by Joe DeFeo, who was elected countywide as board chairman in November.