DeKalb County Schools in northeast Alabama was determined to secure all district campuses, allowing students and faculty to focus on education rather than safety. However, before working with Schneider Electric, the district had an extensive maintenance backlog across their facilities that was becoming a roadblock to advancing their mission-critical need for improved physical security measures.
“Safety and security have always been a top priority here at DeKalb County Schools,” said Superintendent Wayne Lyles. “We needed a partner in our modernization initiatives who could take a strategic approach to meet our needs.”
Finding the funding to meet pressing school security needs
DeKalb County Schools turned to Schneider Electric to design and implement a plan tailored for their district’s needs. Implementing new security measures while keeping spending in check was a must for the cash-strapped district, so funding options were also assessed.
Unlike a traditional security contractor, Schneider Electric approaches physical security through the lens of our broader facility modernization expertise. Schneider performed a comprehensive assessment of all 17 DeKalb County School facilities, including mechanical and capital assets, to identify opportunities for savings and modernization.
Schneider Electric was able to guarantee a 29% reduction in the district’s energy and operational savings from the project. Through an innovative capital recovery plan, funded through energy savings performance contracting, the district was then able to reinvest $13 million into physical security upgrades without needing to obtain external funding sources.
Securing the school campus with modern technologies
To match DeKalb’s priorities, Schneider Electric designed a comprehensive security upgrade with a tailored set of solutions to make DeKalb County Schools a safer place to learn for its 9000 students. Improved physical security on campus also helps to deter more mundane challenges, such as vandalism of school property or unauthorized access.
Solutions chosen for DeKalb County Schools included:
- Access control starts at the perimeter. So, the first step for DeKalb County was installing fencing and gates on all campuses. The gates have networked controls to regulate vehicle traffic. To enter, drivers must speak to someone via a two-way radio.
- With the perimeter secure, the next step was lighting. Indoor and outdoor lighting was improved by implementing LED technology. Well-lit perimeters, entrances, pathways, and parking lots are not only safer, but LED lighting is a cost-saving improvement that decreases energy usage and lowers maintenance costs.
- Networked security cameras provide real-time surveillance of the entry and egress and area surrounding each building. Microphone systems were also placed at front doors to enable staff to communicate with visitors to determine if their entry is necessary before allowing them access to the building.
- New security vestibules allow staff to monitor and control traffic in and out of the building. These have double doors that can be locked by staff to stop entry. Staff can also monitor the area via see-through/pass-through windows. The highly secure vestibule offers another benefit— cost savings due to enhanced retention of heated or cooled air.
- Finally, the most basic way to secure entry is building keys, yet physical keys are lost all the time. And the expense to rekey the entire school is exorbitant. So, DeKalb County switched to key cards. If a key card is lost, access can be quickly and easily removed, minimizing the security threat. Key cards offer another advantage by enabling school administration to review who is in the building, when, and where, and better understand traffic flow.
Partnership enables school district to make security and infrastructure improvements
DeKalb County School District had a mission: improve safety and security infrastructure, without breaking the bank. Fortunately, they found an innovative ally in Schneider Electric who provided them with physical upgrades that didn’t require any external funding sources— allowing faculty, students and parents alike to have peace of mind.
Addressing critical safety and security areas helps students, parents, and staff feel confident that they can focus on their critical mission of education. Schneider Electric has successfully implemented hundreds of design-build projects at school districts like DeKalb nationwide, to help clients modernize their infrastructure and create a secure environment.