Price Tag for Birmingham Schools' Visitor Notification System Lower Than Expected
The district will spend just over $100,000 to install a visitor notification system at every school building this spring, $50,000 less than they originally planned.
Birmingham Public Schools isn't spending as much as it thought it would to boost the safety of students across the district.
On Tuesday night, the Birmingham Board of Education voted to spend $106,807 to install "visitor notification systems" (VNS) at every school building across the district this spring.
The VNS system involves installing new security cameras and intercoms at every building, and then keeping the front doors locked during the day.
When visitors need to get into the school, they'll first talk to a school secretary over the intercom. School staff will also be able to scope out visitors on new monitors installed in main offices.
The VNS system is part of a comprehensive set of new security measures first presented to the school board by Superintendent Daniel Nerad in early February.
The VNS system will replace unarmed security guards currently stationed at the doors to every school building. The guards were hired in January soon after the district decided to lock the front doors to all buildings during the day — both in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December.
To install the system, Birmingham has hired Newkirk Electric Associates, from Flint. The cost of the installation itself is $101,707 while contingency costs are just north of $5,000.
This is far below what the district thought it would spend on the project. In late February, Birmingham's Technology Director Kevin Galbraith said the project was expected to cost closer to $150,000.
"We're very pleased," Galbraith said Tuesday concerning the total cost of the project.
To pay for the project, Birmingham Public Schools is using cash from its fund equity, a kind of savings account for the district.
Workers will start immediately, Galbraith said, with the entire project expected to be completed by May 3. At that time, the district will stop using the security guards.
The new system is more cost effective than the guards. During a presentation to the board in late February, Nerad said that with 15 security guards working 40 hours a week, at $17 per hour, the current cost of the contract is $40,800 a month.
Through May 3, the district will have paid around $122,000 to hire the guards.
At the same time that the VNS system is being installed, Deputy Superintendent Paul DeAngelis said that the district will also be installing keyless entry systems at some school buildings for parents and teachers.
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