COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As students and teachers in the Richland Two School District return next week to begin another school year, they will be welcomed back by major security upgrades.
The projects stem from the $468 million bond referendum passed by voters in November 2018.
According to the district, $288.1 million is designated for safety and security projects. The projects include secure entrances, replacement schools, maintenance, reducing the use of portables and enhancing security cameras throughout the district.
Fifteen schools across the district are undergoing construction on new front entrances, designed to create a barrier between students, staff and the general public. Previously, in schools like Rice Creek Elementary, visitors from the outside could walk past the receptionist into the school. Now, locked doors, bulletproof glass, and bullet-resistant fiberglass separate school visitors from the hallways and classrooms.
The following elementary schools have ongoing construction on new secure lobby areas: Bookman Road Elementary, Killian Elementary, Lake Carolina Upper Elementary, Polo Road Elementary, Round Top Elementary, Sandlapper Elementary, Pontiac Elementary, Rice Creek Elementary, Windsor Elementary and Center for Inquiry.
Blythewood Middle School, Summit Parkway Middle School, Kelly Mill Middle School, and Longleaf Middle School also have lobby construction taking place this summer. Spring Valley High School is also undergoing renovations.
“What it allows us to do is provide a better, safe, and secure environment which then gives our students a peace of mind, our faculty and staff a peace of mind, and our parents and community a peace of mind that we’ve done everything necessary and humanly possible to provide a safe and secure learning environment for our students,” said Dr. Baron Davis, the superintendent of Richland Two School District.
The district is using ArmorCore, which consists of panels of woven fiberglass, in between layers of drywall in all of its entrances. It is also using bulletproof glass in its reception and office areas, providing an extra layer of security for faculty members at the front of the school. Bullet-resistant film is also being applied to classroom windows.
At Longleaf Middle School, access to the office and guidance department will be limited, as new walls and secure access doors will prevent visitors from gaining access to the rest of the school. Instead, visitors will be escorted into the building once they’ve been checked in by reception.
Dr. Davis said the security enhancements, in addition to proper procedure, will positively impact students, faculty and staff within the district.
“I think about the safety and security of everyone in our district every single morning and every night,” he said. “This gives me a little comfort and more importantly we want to make sure we follow our safety and security procedures.”
The district said every school will see security projects over the life of the bond referendum. However, it said many of the security projects will take place in the first few years of the bond. Some of the projects include replacing several schools.
Some of the newer schools will also receive security upgrades, such as improved fencing around the property, door locks, bullet resistant film on windows and additional security cameras.
Bethel Hanberry Elementary, Forest Lake Elementary and E.L. Wright Middle School will be replaced as part of the bond referendum.
According to the district, taxpayers can expect to see a $6 dollar per month increase on their property taxes, but it is not an immediate increase. The district expects to borrow the full bond amount over a five to six year period, meaning the $6 dollar increase will not take place over the course of a year.
For more information on the construction projects taking place at your student’s school, visit the district’s website here.