Visitors to the Akron Public Schools downtown headquarters will soon have to prove they aren't bringing weapons in with them.
The district will install metal detectors at the doors, along with replacing many of those that already exist at Akron middle and high schools.
The purchase of 17 new machines was made possible by a state school safety grant worth about $120,000. Thanks to bulk pricing, only about a third of that was spent on metal detectors, said Daniel Rambler, director of Student Support Services and Security.
Another third was spent on safety audits for every school to determine vulnerabilities and identify ways to beef up security.
The last third was spent on a training program for teachers to implement a program called PAX, which helps children regulate behavior.
"That way we could have more of a long-term impact on kids, too," Rambler said.
The goal, he said, is for the district to work as much as possible to prevent violence instead of reacting to it.
The metal detectors in schools are used at random, with students going through searches roughly eight to 10 times per year., he said The detectors could be used at the beginning of the day on their way into school, or at random throughout the day.
"It can be very disruptive to learning when you're doing it, I can appreciate," the former assistant principal said, but he believes the safety benefits outweigh those concerns.
Over the years — Akron first installed metal detectors in the 1980s — the district's metal detectors have turned up a few real guns and BB guns, with small knives more common, he said.
Superintendent David James announced the addition of the board office metal detectors during a meeting Monday night, noting they would likely be in use at the next meeting.
"We have a few more tools to make sure our students and staff are safe, which includes this building as well," James said.
The district moved its headquarters to 10 N. Main in July.
James vaguely referenced recent violent national events as a motivator. This summer saw several deadly mass shootings across the country, in addition to school shootings across the nation last year. The shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people on Valentine's Day in 2018 motivated many school districts to take a hard look at their security, and states funneled millions of extra dollars into safety grants.
Board member Bruce Alexander thanked James for the enhanced security measures.
"That is something we need to constantly, consistently look at," he said.
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