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DeKalb County Schools get upgraded security features

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. - Security is being ramped up at each and every DeKalb County school.

It is part of a $13 million partnership with Sneider Electric to improve its energy efficiency while modernizing its security.

“I remember exactly where I was during Columbine,” said Dekalb County Schools Superintendent Jason Barnett. “I remember where I was during Sandy Hook. You really don’t want to think about them happening here in northeast Alabama in DeKalb County with our small tight-knit rural school, however, anything can happen in any place. I feel like we would be negligent if we didn’t act and take some preventative measures.”

Barnett jumped at the chance to make some major improvements to all 17 of the district’s campuses.

The district is upgrading exterior and interior lighting, its camera system, and putting up fencing to channel employees and school visitors to a centralized location.

“We need to know where they’re going, who they’re here for, what their purpose is, so we can meet the security needs of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Barnett.

There are about 58 entrances at Sylvania High School, which is kindergarten through 12th grade.

Barnett said he wants everyone to come through the main entrance.

“Once you enter the school now, you have the opportunity to come through a couple set of doors, and then you’ll be greeted at a vestibule area, you’ll be greeted by the school secretary or somebody who will determine what kind of access you need,” demonstrated Barnett.

A new fence at the back of Sylvania High School is one of the many security upgrades being done. Once it is fully operations, it will open and close to allow only school employees and delivery trucks to come in by using a call button or key card.

Barnett told WHNT News 19 that the savings from the energy-efficient upgrades, like automated HVAC systems and new lighting, are guaranteed to pay off the $13 million the project cost the school.

If not, he said they will get a check for what is leftover.

Barnett said the entire project should be completed by the end of February or early March 2020.

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