Governor Kemp gets school safety grant demo

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The state has set aside millions of dollars to improve the safety of schools all over Georgia and Wednesday Governor Brian Kemp saw that money in action.

The governor visited Chapel Hill High School in Douglas County to get a demonstration of the school's new Centegix system, which went live this week. The wireless alert program allows teachers and other school staff to send out a lockdown or SOS with the touch of a button.  The system also sends first responders information about the location where the alert was activated so that they can get there more quickly.

"It's really amazing how it works.," said Gov. Kemp.  "Very simple, but very effective."

The school system paid for the new technology by applying for a state school safety grant.  In this year's amended budget, Gov. Kemp requested $69 million for the grants, which allows for $30,000 per school statewide.

"We were already looking at it trying to figure out how could we afford to pay for it," explained Douglas County Schools Superintendent Trent North. "When the governor mentioned the $30,000 and I recognized that it wasn't just for the district, it's for the school, I knew this was going to work." 

North said the total cost to install the system in all 35 Douglas County schools was $1.1 million all of which was covered by state money. He said the system is in place in all the schools now and will go live by the start of next school year.

"We didn't want to buy something that was going to require us to have to continue budgeting for it every year. This is low maintenance, yet high security and so we're excited about it," said North.

Last week, Governor Kemp vetoed a school safety bill that would have required schools to develop and submit school safety plans to the state as well as hold annual safety drills.  He said he thought the bill put an undue burden on school systems.

"Obviously I'm not against school safety," explained Gov. Kemp. "I mean, look what we've done today, but I feel like it's better to take the money that we've passed in the amended budget. That's the quickest way instead of us implementing some new state program or mandate or you know, requiring the schools to do something. You can see they're already doing it here."