Athens schools beef up security - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Athens schools beef up security

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They hired a security firm to walk through each school and point out any problems. They hired a security firm to walk through each school and point out any problems.

Athens city schools leaders are working to make all seven campuses safer.

The school district has already been beefing up security with surveillance cameras and controlled access doors, but now they are turning to security experts for help.

They hired a security firm to walk through each school and point out any problems.

Those experts came up with a whole list of suggestions, such as creating a secure waiting area for visitors, building barriers around outdoor areas, installing safety shields or tinting on glass, and putting metal coverings on door windows.

Perhaps the most important recommendations come with placing armed officers at every campus.

But experts say the key to protecting the entire school comes with protecting the front office.

"The main thing is the entrance to each school and just about every school in Alabama is the same. When you walk through the front door, you end up right in front of the student population. Our recommendation is to restrict movement of visitors within the school where they have no access to the student population," said Jeff Hovis with The Moses Group.

While some of the solutions are simple and can be carried out by school employees, most are costly projects.

"All of them are important. Whether they can do all of them or just some of them, anything they do will make an improvement," said Hovis, who also owns Common Sense Solutions.

That means school leaders will have to choose which ones they can afford, and leave the others for later.

"What we have asked them to do when they give us the report is to prioritize the suggestions based on what they think are the most critical to the least critical. After we get that, we will make the decision according to our budget," explained Athens Board of Education President Russell Johnson.

The school district is also hoping some state and federal money will come its way to help pay for these projects.

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