In the wake of a rash of school and other mass shootings across the country, Guilford County government and Guilford County Schools have undertaken a major effort to improve emergency radio communications in the county’s schools.
However, that effort isn’t moving fast enough for some, and two recent incidents at county schools have exposed the weaknesses.
Recently, there was a fight between girls at Southern Guilford High School at which a school resource officer needed help and attempted to radio for backup. However, the officer could not reach anyone on the emergency radio. Soon after that, there was another incident during which an officer’s radio also failed to operate.
One problem is that schools are built with very thick walls and in certain areas emergency radios do not get good, or in some cases any, signal connection.
Guilford County has allocated $5 million to upgrade the communications systems in schools – which involves, among other things, placing antennas on the tops of school buildings to boost radio signals.
Recently, at a national conference of county officials in Washington D.C., Guilford County Commissioner Alan Perdue, who was the longtime director of Guilford County Emergency Services – gave a very well-received presentation on the importance of communications in response to school threats, so it’s somewhat ironic that this is a well-recognized problem for Guilford County schools.
Perdue told the Rhino Times that he had become aware of the two recent cases of communication failure in the County schools.
“It is alarming,” Perdue said, “that we had an incident where the officer could not communicate, and then we had another one right after that.”
Perdue said one of the reasons the emergency response during the Uvalde High School shooting was so disastrous is that some responders in the school where unable to communicate with others. He said proper communication is essential in those situations.
One high-ranking county official who asked not to be identified said that some county leaders wished school officials would push the project forward faster.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners allocated $600,000 to study the issue and develop specifications for a request for proposals in 2019. In 2020 and 2021 several county commissioners were publicly critical of the rate at which the schools undertook that project. In May of 2022, the county commissioners allocated an additional $4.4 million to make the improvements. As of February 21, the school system has spent $63,250 of that $4.4 million.
Though Guilford County Communications and Public Relations Director Julie Smith stated that that amount “is not reflective of what may have been obligated to a project(s).”
Simply bid the project out with a performance bond and get it done.
We’re talking about our children here!
Same old story, different day. The school systems has known for years this is a problem. During my tenure as Sheriff it was identified as a problem and reported to both the school system and commissioners. Nothing but lip service was given by either. It is their responsibility, not the Sheriff’s, but the old adage “I don’t run the train, I don’t ring the bell, but let it run off the track and see who catches hell” fits here. Law enforcement will be to blame for the schools and counties failure to act. The need is for repeaters in the school corridors. Our schools are designed with multiple halls off a central hub. The classrooms are divided by brick or cinderblock walls. All these contribute to poor radio reception. Add the that a ‘nothings happened yet” attitude from the county and nothing gets done. It’s past time.
Austin Morris will tell you that public schools are a failure and need to be defunded. Hmmmm where have we heard of defunding a failing service? It is a silly idea but unfortunately schools remain underfunded and poorly managed.
I smell a statephike here
Austin Morris would be spot on.
Homeschool your children if you truly give a damn about what they learn, or more importantly, what they don’t.
Yesterday’s schools are today’s liberal indoctrination centers. They’re not training children to be free thinking members of society, they are re-defining “normal.” Kids are taught feelings are more important than morals, gender is fluid, and social justice is the answer to everything. Video games, cell phones, social media and VR turn brilliant young minds into mindless zombies. I say turn or burn. If we don’t get back to basics, nature will eventually force us there.
Don’t put words in my mouth, Lyin’ Chris. Your mendacity and misrepresentations are chronic.
It’s nice to know that I’m living in your head though – rent free!
Ha, ha, ha!
Does our govt do anything well?
Other than screwing things up and doubling down on it, HELL NO!
No surprises here Scott. Sounds just like the city council. SNAFU
All the money the schools have received, along with the bonds approved and they haven’t fixed their crappy radio equipment?
What are they waiting on? Maybe another “study” to be made?
Preparing a list of needs for another bond referendum, the one think the school system seems to excell in doing.
Dead right! They’re receiving a torrent of money, and it’s going somewhere.
Funny how all my “underpaid educator” customers drive Lexuses and Mercs…
Why would this surprise anyone? Whenever it comes to something of critical importance in this country, particularly public safety, there’s usually epic failure. And allocating only $5 million total to improve all the public schools’ emergency radio systems in Guilford County is a sign that this issue is too low of a priority.