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Newark to Use Covid Relief Funds to Beef Up School Security

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chalkbeat.org
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And the state will spend $6.5 million on digital building maps to help police locate access points in an emergency

Newark is trying to make this school year safer. The schools plan to hire more security guards, launch a new student identification system, and use updated software to track incidents.

And the state is spending $6.5 million to have school districts digitize building maps. This allows police to easily spot key access points, stairwells, and other locations.

Experts call the maps a tool but not a solution, said Catherine Carrera, the Newark bureau chief for the education website Chalkbeat.

“The digital maps can be really helpful, according to experts, in those emergency situations,” she said, “but they still don’t replace some of the basic tactics of just getting familiar with a layout and more importantly the school community.”

During the last school year, Newark schools faced a number of bomb threats and saw more disruptive behavior.

Newark is using a significant chunk of its federal Covid relief funds for all the new security. Carrera detailed some of the major expenditures.

“About $2.4 million will be going to security cameras alone and then there’s also upgrades to school safety officers, as in new patrol cars, for about close to 300 thousand dollars,” said Carrera.

All designed to make everyone feel safer — but does it?

“Kids don’t want to go to school and have metal detectors and security cameras and feel as if there’s a need to feel this unsafe,” she said, “and also that they’re being looked at as potentially harming other students when they just want to go to school.”

Janice Kirkel is a lifelong award-winning journalist who has done everything from network newscasts to national and local sports reports to business newscasts to specialized reporting and editing in technical areas of business and finance such as bankruptcy, capital structure changes and reporting on the business of the investment business.