GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Greenville County Schools is looking to increase security and student safety at their schools.
When you send your child to school, safety should not be a concern. However, with a number of school shootings taking place each year across the country, some parents say the thought ponders in their mind.
“It’s in the back of my mind, it’s in the back of everybody’s mind, I think. But it’s just one of those things that we live in today,” said Russell Watson, father of two Greenville County students.
In March, a deadly shooting at Tanglewood Middle School added to the growing number of school shootings nationwide. Months before deputies responded to the threat, Greenville County’s school district said a plan was in the works to implement a weapon detection system in its schools.
“We have been looking at this kind of system for almost a year,” said Greenville County Schools Superintendent Dr. Burke Royster.
The technology Royster said the district plans to use is called ‘Evolv’. It’s a portable system, the district said, that would be used to scan students for weapons, simply by walking through.
“You can pass through this Evolv system really at a normal walking pace, so it doesn’t cause this backlog of people outside of the building waiting to be searched,” said Royster. “We don’t want schools to feel like they are a prison they are walking into each day, so that’s a very careful balance in that and we want to do everything we can to ensure safety.”
It’s a safety factor that Greenville County parents, like Watson, are in support of.
“I think it would be great. Any kind of extra added safety for our students and schools would be great,” said Watson. “The teachers and principals do a great job, the district does good job of keeping our schools safe, as well as with the sheriff’s office.”
Before the technology can be put in place, its funds in the 2023 General Budget Plan must be approved by the school board.
“This year in our budget we have placed a $700,000 item to fund the staffing of an Evolv detection system and the reoccurring cost to maintain the software and make sure the system is supported by the manufacture,” said Dr. Royster.
Each system will have a technician and a sheriff’s deputy assigned with it; which a portion of the $700,000 fund would pay. The rest of the money would maintain the technology.
If approved, a second plan will be presented to the school board with funding for the technology itself.
“We would request from the board either to utilize Capital Funds or Fund Balance [for the second approval] which is revenue that we have that exceeds expenditure that year,” said Royster.
If both proposals are approved, the district said they could see the new weapon detection technology implemented in schools as soon as August, when students return.
“I think school safety should be our number one priority at any time. I would just hope that whatever they decide to do, that it’s best for all,” said Watson.
A second reading of the district’s 2023 budget is scheduled to occur before the Greenville County Schools Board of Trustees on June 6.
The board meeting will determine the action on the General Fund Budget, containing the expense for the new system.