Gulf Shores City Schools enhancing campus security; purchasing $300K magnetic door lock system

By Jessica Vaughn
Education Editor
jessica@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 8/16/22

GULF SHORES — During the Thursday, Aug. 4, board meeting, the Gulf Shores Board of Education approved the purchase of nSide, a magnetic door lock and monitoring system, for all exterior doors …

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Gulf Shores City Schools enhancing campus security; purchasing $300K magnetic door lock system

Posted

GULF SHORES — During the Thursday, Aug. 4, board meeting, the Gulf Shores Board of Education approved the purchase of nSide, a magnetic door lock and monitoring system, for all exterior doors at the system's three schools.
The quote amount is $298,394.20 and will be purchased using additional funds the school system received this year from the state. Officials expect the new system to be installed during the 2022-23 school year.


The big picture: In an effort to enhance campus safety at all Gulf Shores schools, a committee consisting of Gulf Shores City Schools board members and staff, representatives from each Gulf Shores school and officers from the Gulf Shores Police Department, have held several meetings to discuss school safety. These meetings featured multiple vendors introducing various safety enhancing technologies.
"The overwhelming consensus of that committee was that the number one thing we needed to do was be able to make sure all doors are locked, and that we have the ability to monitor those doors," said District Superintendent Matt Akin, Ph.D. "And when they're not locked, then administrators and SROs get an alarm message saying which door is not locked."

Importance of heightened security measures: Recent school tragedies, such as the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, have school systems across the nation re-evaluating school security.
"My heart breaks that this is something that we have to consider, but I'm really proud of our system that it's something that we're going to be putting in place," said GSBE Vice President Nicky Gotschall, Ph.D.


Details: Once the system is in place, select administrators and SROs will receive a notification if a door has remained opened for longer than a prespecified amount of time. The prespecified time limit can be the same for each school or different, depending on individual locations' needs. The notification will include which door has remained open.


• If no one responds to the notification within a separate specified time limit, the Gulf Shores Police Department is automatically alerted.
• Administrators and SROs will know the status of every door at all times.
• Administrators and SROs will have the ability to lock every door with one click.
• With the new locks plus existing security features, including live video surveillance, administrators will know if a door has been propped open, intentionally or unintentionally, and by whom.
• Locks can be set to automatically lock at a specified time, and unlock at a specified time, such as from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.; however, times can be adjusted accordingly for special events or needs.


"The great thing about this is doors are monitored at all times," Marcus Early, district safety coordinator, said. "They have 24-hour support, they have chat, if something's wrong with the doors, they'll send a notification right away. So, from the safety standpoint, it will improve the schools by making sure the doors are all locked."


The bottom line: After weighing the pros and cons of a variety of systems and technologies, the Gulf Shores Police Department's input was that first and foremost, making sure the campuses are secure and doors are locked is top priority.
"If someone can't get into your building, they can't do damage," Early said.

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