Knox County Board of Education approves school security measures

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Knox County Board of Education approved several measures to increase security at schools.

The panel approve a plan for auditing security systems at several schools:

The Knox County Board of Education will work with the Purchasing Department to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an outside contract audit of security alarm systems, video camera systems and keyless entry systems (where applicable) installed by the contractor PSCD ( Professional Security Consultants & Design) at approximately 5-6 schools. The contract audit will be governed by the following parameters:

• The RFP will specify the task, which will be to audit whether the systems and equipment delivered by PSCD in those schools met all the specifications of the contract (copies of which will be provided by Knox County Purchasing).

• The purchasing department will expedite the procurement process as much as is legally appropriate and allowable.

• The RFP selection committee to identify the winning bidder will include representatives of the School Board, Mayor’s Office, County Commission, Sheriff’s Office, KPD, and Purchasing. The selected vendor will immediately notify all of these parties of any concerns about any attempt to compromise or impede the contract audit.

• Firms that currently or recently have worked for the school system or PBA on school project should not be allowed to propose.

• The firm(s) that are selected to perform the contract audit will be prohibited from bidding/proposing on Knox County Schools security work for a period of three years.

• The schools will be randomly selected on the Thursday before the work is undertaken on each of the two weekends (approximately 24 hours before the work begins). This random selection will be overseen by a designated School Board Member. A representative of the Mayor’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Knoxville Police Department (KPD), and the County Commission Chair are welcome to be in attendance.

• The final report of the contract audit will be sent to the Chair of the Knox County Board of Education, who will share the report with the full School Board, Mayor’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, KPD, County Commission Chair, and the Superintendent as soon as is practicable, but certainly within 4 business hours of receipt. Copies of the report, redacted to remove any safety sensitive information, will be made publicly available as soon as the redaction is completed.

• The contract audit will be paid for through funds identified within the Knox County Schools FY13 Budget.

The board also approved money to start hiring and training school resource officers. Superintendent Jim McIntyre submitted this letter:

At our community meeting on school safety and security (Tuesday) night at Amherst Elementary School, the feedback that we received from community stakeholders was very supportive of deploying an armed, uniformed officer at each of our schools.

In fact, there was a very clear sense of urgency among the parents in attendance that we need to put this important strategy in place as soon as possible.

I plan to recommend to the Board of Education that you approve the addition of 58 school security officer positions for the upcoming school year (at an estimated cost of $1.9 million) as part of the FY14 Budget proposal. These additional positions will allow us to have a school resource officer or school security officer at each of our schools.

We are in engaged in an on- going dialogue with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the Knoxville Police Department regarding the deployment of all current officers and these new positions.
However, in order to begin the process of recruiting, hiring, equipping and training these new officers to be ready for the new school year, I would respectfully request that the school board approve a supplemental budget request of $218,782 for the current fiscal year (FY13).

This request for additional appropriation from the County Commission in the current fiscal year will allow us to begin the process of scaling up our security force, including procuring the necessary equipment and training.

This supplemental appropriation will likely not mean we will have additional officers deployed in the current school year, but it will allow us to begin the critically important selection and training process prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1st. In addition, appropriating these funds in the current fiscal year will demonstrate the County Commission’s commitment to the on-going cost of deploying an officer to every school in our system.

The proposal for funding now goes to the County Commission for a vote.

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