May 24, 2018
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Georgetown voters to consider school security upgrades

By Larry Grard, Times Record

GEORGETOWN, Maine — The Board of Selectmen has approved a request of $20,000 to upgrade security at Georgetown Central School. The proposal goes to a town meeting vote on June 8.

Kristin Malin, chairwoman of the Georgetown School Committee, made the proposal during the April board meeting. Malin suggested two options: Either the School Committee could find $10,000 in the current budget to start the work and request the remaining $10,000 in the 2013-14 budget, or the committee could request approval of the full $20,000 in the 2013-14 budget at the June 8 town meeting.

The Board of Selectmen voted for the second option.

The proposal involves installing four cameras, locking doors during the day, requiring that people get “buzzed in,” and changing the locks from keys to swipe cards.

Geoff Birdsall, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said Thursday that Eileen King, superintendent of Alternative Organizational Structure 98 of Boothbay has suggested the measure for all of its schools. The Georgetown School Committee has some money left from last year’s budget that can go toward the project, he said.

“They have put it out to all the towns,” Birdsall said. “Georgetown selectmen think on some levels that something like the massacre that happened in Newtown [Conn.] won’t happen here. But in reality, most schools have some sort of minor lockdown every year. When we thought about it, we said, ‘We do not want to risk not doing the right thing.’”

As Birdsall explained it, the School Committee has its own budget, and selectmen write the town budget warrant. The town usually allows the School Committee to present its own budget proposal to the town meeting warrant, he said.

“We support our School Committee,” Birdsall said, “and we have a really wonderful school.”

Safety measures already in place at AOS 98 schools include numbering each classroom doors and windows with solid black numbers. The highly-visible numbers can help responders, especially since substitute teachers may not know the number of their classrooms.

Also, AOS 98 bus drivers will not let students in grades K-4 off the bus if there isn’t anyone to receive them or if they don’t recognize a person to receive them, and will bring them back to school.

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