Las Vegas Sun

November 20, 2018

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Report: Nevada schools may have to choose between security, education resources

The Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities, a nonprofit, bipartisan research and policy analysis center, looked into the costs of implementing security measures in Nevada schools — from installing surveillance cameras and metal detectors to X-ray baggage scanners, ID cards and more.

Nancy Brune, executive director, wrote the report after several school shootings unfolded across the country and Gov. Brian Sandoval signed an executive order creating the Statewide School Safety Task Force.

The task force, made up of superintendents, school teachers, parents and others will report to Sandoval later this summer with security measure recommendations. In the fall, the group will offer long-term recommendations to improve safety in Nevada’s schools, budgetary requests and more.

“We thought it would be interesting to put a price tag on security related to the school buildings,” Brune said. “Ground the conversation in some reality about how much these costs could be or about how high they may run.”

Additionally, the report compares the cost of implementing potential security measures with the costs needed for the repairs on the campuses across the state. Because of limited resources, the report explores whether using funds for security measures are the best use of funds versus ensuring the physical stability of their school’s infrastructure.

As of 2016 CCSD reported that 50 percent of its school buildings are more than 20 years old. In five years that number will jump to 62 percent. Sixteen schools met the requirements for replacement based on the ratio of renovation cost to replacement value.

“It’s this weighing of priorities — do you fund cameras, do you fund teachers or instructional materials?” Brune said. “We should be concerned about student outcomes and we have to ask what is the relationship between these safety and security technologies and student outcomes. It may make more sense to focus on prevention as opposed to security technology.”

School security costs across the state

Brune notes that the costs are based on Department of Justice reports from 2006, and these costs are on the higher end of the price scale as technology has become more readily available. Information gathered by the U.S. Department of Justice 2006 School Security Technologies Research Report was used because “that was the only source we could find, very few people have looked at the costs.”

Clark County School District

In Southern Nevada there are 358 schools in the Clark County School District, including seven new elementary schools that opened in the 2017-18 school year. However, for the local data to match the state data computed by the Guinn Center, the Las Vegas Weekly used the 354 schools that were eligible when Brune compiled the report. The only data set not included was the cost of installing surveillance systems because CCSD schools currently have surveillance systems, according to the report.

Below are the estimated costs for implementing security at CCSD:

Remote Access for Doorways or Buzzer Systems

$10,000 each (1 per school)

354 eligible schools in the district at the time of the study

Cost: $3,540,000

Metal Detectors

$50,000 each (1 per school)

354 eligible schools in the district at the time of the study

Cost: $17,700,000

Handheld Metal Detectors

$400 each (3 per school)

354 eligible schools in the district at the time of the study

Cost: $424,800

Scan Cards

$30,000 per small school

$200,000 per large school

219 eligible small schools in the district at the time of the study

135 eligible large schools in the district at the time of the study

Cost: $6,570,000 for small schools; $27,000,000 for large schools.

To read the full report, visit here.

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.