School security getting upgrade

Chad Frey
The entrance of Newton High School, which was the site of a protest of gun violence in schools in 2018, will be outfitted with increased security measures -- as will the entrances to all school buildings in Newton USD 373 -- after the district was awarded a grant from the Department of Justice.

Security is about to get an upgrade in Newton USD 373, with the lion’s share of the funding for those upgrades coming from a federal grant.

“Newton caught a break for once. This is huge. I am so excited,” said board member Mallory Morton.

Newton USD 373 was the only school district in the state to receive the award.

The district submitted a grant application for $375,000 committing nearly $125,000 in matching funds.

As a result, the district will install electronic access control systems in all 12 school buildings. That will mean electronic access points that can be used by law enforcement, buzzer control systems for front doors, outdoor video cameras, intercom systems and computer control systems.

The cost of the electronic access control system is $245,952. The EAC system will be installed at 48 entry points at 12 school sites. The price tag includes all hardware, software, computer services, servers, labor and wire. The system includes an outside buzzer, intercom and cameras so front office staff can see who is requesting entry prior to building access.

“In the next couple of weeks we are looking to get some bid partners and some assessments to see how close we can get with this price range,” Decker said.

The district is also planning to purchase more than 120 video cameras for surveillance within school buildings.

The cost of the video surveillance technology is $253,764. These funds will allow the district to install cameras at 126 priority locations throughout the district. The cost and license for the system includes all hardware, software, labor, wiring, and integration at all school locations.

The plan is have everything installed by the start of the 2021 school year.

The grant funding of the project — more than $375,000 from the Department of Justice — was first applied for in 2019. The funds come from the office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The organization gave out nearly $50 million in school safety funding through the School Violence Prevention Program.