Local schools to receive more than $1 million for security, tech upgrades

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Rep. Wes Allen, R – Troy, on Tuesday announced more than $1 million in new funding is being made available for school security enhancements, technology upgrades, and other needs at local schools.

The new funding, which is based upon student populations, will be divided with $565,412 going to Pike County schools, $511,681 being awarded to the Troy City School District, and $919,328 being allocated to Dale County schools.

Dr. Mark Bazzell, superintendent of Pike County Schools, said the money has boosted the school system’s ability to make upgrades to security measures and technology.

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“We’re always excited to get any kind of special allocation form the legislature above and beyond the foundation program allocations,” Bazzell said. “We already have plans for those expenditures.

“School safety is always a priority for us. We’ve made a lot of progress with the partnership we have with our sheriff’s department. We’re trying to determine how we can add additional school resource officers. Last year, we entered into an agreement with East Central Mental Health for school-based mental health services.

“We’re also trying to upgrade surveillance systems – the biggest challenge is taking existing systems and converting the platforms. We’re also hoping to use some of this money to implement kiosks in our schools that will keep up with check-ins and check-outs and require a valid Alabama ID to be scanned to check a student out.”

Dr. Lee Hicks, superintendent at Troy City Schools, said the Troy system also has plans already in place for the money.

“We are already more advanced than most school systems in what we offer to students and teachers,” Hicks said. “This will allow us to get teachers new computers – they’re going on year 10 with their current desktops. It will also allow us to be able to bring up new virus and protection with the days of all the cyber attacks, it will assist us in that area as well.”

Hicks said the money could also be used for such possibilities as replacing smart boards with more long-lasting options and bring more computer programs that could assist students in the classroom.

Allen said he was excited to be a part of the measure in his first year in session.

“As a freshman legislator, it is my pleasure to help secure almost $2 million in new funding for the schools within my legislative district, Allen said. “It is especially appropriate to announce this funding as schoolchildren, teachers, and administrators across throughout the area begin a new academic year. Two of the most important tasks that educators have today is implementing security upgrades and protocols that keep our children free from harm and providing the resources necessary to prepare them for the 21st Century workforce, and this funding will go far towards meeting those goals.

Even before this funding was secured, the Education Trust Fund budget we passed earlier this year provided an increase in new teachers being hired, new dollars flowing directly into the classroom, and a salary raise for our teachers.”

Schools that will receive the funding include: Banks School, Goshen Elementary, Goshen High, Pike County Elementary, Pike County High, Troy Elementary, Charles Henderson Middle, Charles Henderson High, Ariton School, G.W. Long Elementary, and G.W. Long High.