Guilford school board split on state security funds

By Rachael Scarborough King
June 10, 2008

GUILFORD — The Board of Education was split Monday night on whether to accept state grant money for security improvements at the district’s schools.

At their regular meeting, several board members said they are in favor of adding more security features at the schools, but they do not agree with the state’s requirements for how to spend the grant money.

The board voted 4-4 on a motion to accept the money, with eight of the nine members present.

The grant includes about $12,000 from the state with the requirement that Guilford spend a total of $50,000 on installing a door buzzer system at some schools, board members said Monday.

That would mean the district would have to spend $38,000 of its own on the buzzer system; the funds are already available in the district’s budget, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Forcella said.

Some board members advocated accepting the grant and installing the buzzers — which would allow the schools greater control over who enters the building — while others said they would rather the district decide how to spend the money, possibly on video camera systems.

“We’d get bigger bang for our buck in not accepting the state’s money,” Vice Chairman Keith Bishop said.

Member Louis Iorio said he thinks the video cameras would provide better security.

“We all want to establish the best possible security we can in all of our schools in the shortest period of time,” he said.

But board Chairman William Bloss said he is in favor of the door buzzer system.

“We should accept the grant with the strings attached,” Bloss said. “I think it’s more important myself to keep unauthorized people out of the schools than to film them once they’re in.”

Since the board split on the vote, the motion did not pass. Bloss said the group will revisit the issue at a future meeting.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board thanked outgoing student representatives Marcus Pasay and Jeffrey Cash, who are graduating, for their participation in meetings this year.

The student representatives make a presentation at each regular board meeting about activities and events in the district’s schools.

“I think that the example that these two students put forth this year can only make it better next year,” Forcella said. “It is important as the board makes decisions that the student perspective be weighed.”

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