Why some Lexington schools are still waiting on metal detectors

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) -- Lexington students and teachers will reenter the classroom for the 2019-2020 school year with hope for a year full of knowledge and growth. Fayette County Public Schools hope to spend part of their school year finishing a $13.5 million security initiative.

In September of 2018 Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk announced a 10-point safety plan. The plan would be funded through a five-percent property tax increase and would include security upgrades, metal detectors, social media monitoring and an upgraded communication system. The plan received the backing from business leaders, as Commerce Lexington pledged support for the proposal.

In the same month our news partners at the Herald-Leader reported the plans for metal detectors in all high schools would be installed in April of 2019 and all middle schools by the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

Fast-forward to August, metal detectors have been installed four high schools while Lafayette Senior High School and Henry Clay High School still remain. According to Fayette County Public Schools, no metal detectors have been installed in the middle schools.

“We don’t want this to go on for several years,” Fayette County Public School’s Senior Director of Leadership Schuronda Morton told WKYT’s Nick Oliver Tuesday.

Morton says the hold-up has been finding a contractor that could successfully complete the renovations and installation in a timely manner.

She says some older schools require more work in the foyer areas to make the machines fit. She says the same situation is needed in several entrances for each building. However, she says it is not a financial situation with the school district that is keeping the project from being completed.

“If you accept the contract you have to be able to work within our timelines because the community put the trust in us to get it done,” said Morton.

She says the district has since decided on a contractor where they hope to have the machines installed in the remaining two high schools by the end of fall 2019 and all machines installed in the middle schools by the end of spring 2020.

Morton says they also are working to complete other projects such as locked foyer areas in all elementary schools to require visitors to be approved by the school staff before entering into the building.

As part of the 10-point safety plan, the district has successfully placed resource officers in every school along with adding mental health specialists to assist with students and staff.