North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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April 23, 2013

Treadaway's bill would float bond issue for school security upgrades

MORRIS — In the wake of the massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut last December, a local legislator is proposing a bill that would beef up security at schools statewide.

Rep. Allen Treadaway, R-Morris, is sponsoring the Secure School Facilites Act, which would enable a $50 million bond issue to be floated by the state to pay for improved entrances and monitoring at school buildings.

“According to a recent survey by the School Superintendents’ Association of Alabama, 46 percent of all teachers statewide cannot lock their classroom doors from the inside,” Treadaway said. “If an intruder bent on inflicting harm to our students was to get into the hallways, almost half of teachers can’t lock [that intruder out].”

The survey also said that 71 percent of schools can’t monitor all outside entrances from a central location, and 96 percent can’t lock those doors from a central location, either.

Treadaway, a lieutenant with the Birmingham Police Department, has had children in the county school system. They range from a daughter at Bryan Elementary to his oldest daughter, Kelsey, now a teacher and coach at Mortimer Jordan High School.

“Kelsey happens to be at a new facility. She’s fortunate to be at a school that was designed with safety in mind,” Treadaway said. “My youngest daughter in fourth grade is at an older school that is nowhere near as secure. They just recently put a buzzer system at the door, but that door is not made out of impact material, so that school is in need of an upgrade.”

Of the money raised, $10 million would go to local school boards to be used at their discretion, allocated based on population. The remaining $40 million would be doled out via grants, based on the need at a particular school.

“It does cost money, and the economy hasn’t rebounded like we had hoped, but this is not an area we can wait on with what has gone on around the country in our schools,” Treadaway said.

This bill does not address the hiring of additional law enforcement officers to patrol schools.

The bond issue would be repaid from the Education Trust Fund, reducing receipts to that fund by $3.7 million annually for debt service.

The bill was reported out of committee last week. Treadaway said he hopes the measure, known as House Bill 612, will reach the House floor this week, and move to the State Senate shortly thereafter.

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