Protecting students in Martin County

Protecting students in Martin County

At all Martin County schools, staff members can see you before you get in the door.

"Here we have a single point of entry to access the school. All the visitors must press the camera button, the doorbell," said Martin County School District Director of Facilities Garrett Grabowdski.

Access is video-controlled and once inside the school lobby, you are screened and your name is run through a database that alerts staff if there's a red flag.

The district is looking to implement even more security enhancements. "We would be looking at using additional fencing, additional surveillance cameras, additional security systems," said Martin County School Superintendent Laurie Gaylord.

But, it's going to come at a cost. The state will give school districts $99 million to fortify their campuses, but that money will be allotted through a grant process.

"There are plenty of things that we can use that money for," said Gaylord. "Every little bit helps."

The district expects it will have to spend money from its general fund to meet the state mandate that every school has a school resource officer.

"We have used in the past all of our safe school money to contribute toward the cost of school resource officers on our campuses and that did not cover the total expense nor will the $1.1 million cover school resource officers on every campus," added the superintendent.

The district is getting $750,000 more to hire additional officers to make sure all schools, including elementary schools, have a police presence. There are 12 elementary schools, which means 12 additional officer hires at an average cost of $100 thousand per officer just to cover salary and benefits.

"If we base upon what the sheriff has said, that it would cost $3.6 million and if we're receiving $1.1 million that's the difference in the costs," added Gaylord.

The district will also have to find ways to expand its mental health care program with $500 thousand from the state.

"I've always said it takes the physical health and mental health to make the whole child and that's something that has been neglected in not only this state but this country," she said.

The district is implementing a mental health initiative this year and is looking at adding social workers, mental health counselors, and possibly more school psychologists.

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