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Metal detectors delivered to schools

News Staff Writer

The Escambia County Board of Education learned during a workshop held last Thursday, March 14, prior to the board’s regular meeting that metal detectors have been delivered to each facility within the county school system, although it will be a while longer before the devices can be put to full use.
Board members, the BOE’s attorney, Superintendent of Education Dr. Michele Collier and Administrative Secretary Michelle Lucas were spread along four W.S. Neal Middle School lunchroom tables, forcing those who spoke to pass a microphone back and forth so they could be heard by the entire group.
Deputy Director of Operations Shaun Goolsby, who updated the facilities update he had presented the previous week, added that staff members at each school have to be taught how to properly use the electronic security devices before full implementation is done.
“They’ve all been delivered and have been placed at the schools,” Goolsby told school board members. “They’re there, waiting to go ‘live.’ We haven’t gone live yet; we still have to go through the training process with our staff in how to use those machines, as well as procedures and standards of how we will use them.”
An employee of Gulf States Distributors was to come from Montgomery this week to begin the training, Goolsby said.
The metal detectors (about three-dozen hand-held “wands” and about the same number of pass-through detectors, all of which are portable) were purchased at a cost of “around $130,000.” Most of the cost ($100,000) will be paid from a school safety grant, with the remainder — an estimated $20,000-to-$30,000 — coming from local funds.
He added that work continues to progress at a steady rate on Escambia County High School’s (ECHS) athletic field house.
“They are ready to start putting the roof on,” Goolsby said. “It’s coming together. All the framing is done; the plumbing is roughed in; the electrical is roughed in. It’s really nice; it’s a project I’m proud of and one we can all be proud of as a system.”
He said he hopes the project will be done by August 1, adding that, “When the kids come back to school, we hope to be able to move right into it and have a ribbon cutting.”
He said things should also start happening in late summer on the Huxford gymnasium and classroom addition project, which is expected to cost around $8 million. The gym will contain a public storm shelter where community members will be able to join students in the event of violent weather.
“I spoke with PH&J Architects, and we’re looking at that project going to bid around August or September,” Goolsby said. “If we bid that before October 1, we won’t lose any of the money that has been committed.”
The school’s first-ever gymnasium is being paid for with Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA) funds and donations from Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Goolsby said he and a real estate appraiser determined that the market value of the 20-plus acres on which the former Escambia County Training School and Escambia County Middle School were located is $277,500. All buildings on the property have been demolished.
Another Atmore-area project that is coming along well is the renovation of A.C. Moore Elementary, which now houses the rapidly growing Alabama First Class Pre-K Program, where six new classrooms are being readied for students and additional space is being allotted for teachers.
The emergency repair of the flooring problem at ECHS’s cafeteria should be completed by the end of Spring Break, he added.
The board then discussed the hiring of a new Chief Schools Financial Officer (CSFO) before ending the workshop and beginning the regular meeting. That discussion is included in a separate story in this edition.