JOHNSONVILLE, S.C. -- Florence County School District Five Superintendent Randy Smiley said one of the district’s focuses this year has been to increase its safety measures.

“The district, back in October, applied for some grants through the Abbeville process in order to fund some security upgrades in the district, because that was an opportunity for us to finally get some of this stuff done that we wanted to do,” Smiley said.

When the district received more than $915,000 from the Abbeville Capital Improvement Fund, Smiley said the focus became to secure entrances and other doors at Johnsonville schools.

“At the front entrances, there will be a camera,” Smiley said. “Someone will have to ring in to the front. Secretaries will be able to see them from the camera, and then secretaries will be able to have a conversation with whoever is outside and then allow them in if it’s desired to do so. “

Other common entrances used by teachers or students will require swipe-card access. The doors will stay locked unless an individual has the proper identification to get in, Smiley said. Principals can control when the doors are open and locked.

“It’s for safety, because you don’t want anyone in a building by themselves unsecured and if they’re there late,” Smiley said. “We have a lot of things going on at a lot of different times. We just want all our people safe, adults and children.”

Johnsonville Elementary School Principal Dayne Coker said the key-card access is a much easier system than having to use actual keys. One reason is because keys can get lost easier.

“With the key cards, they will also be considered their school IDs, and teachers have to wear those at all times,” Coker said. “I feel, personally my opinion, that the key cards will be better in the sense that they’ll (teachers) hold on to them. They have to have them every day.”

Smiley said the district’s current camera system is aging and wearing out, but a grant has funded a newer camera system that will allow the district, in some instances, to have a 360-degree view around buildings. Cameras will be placed inside and outside of buildings.

“There’ll be cameras that are much more clear and will be able to see a lot further than the cameras we presently have,” Smiley said. “There’ll also be a lot more of them. So we’ll be able to see places that we presently weren’t able to see.”

Principals and law enforcement will be able to log on to the camera system at any time and from anywhere.

“So if a principal is not in the building for some reason and he wants to check this hall, see what’s going on, he can log in to the system from his iPhone and be able to watch that,” Smiley said. “He’ll also be able to pull it up on his computer monitor in his office or anywhere else in the building that he wants to be able to do that from.”

Other planned or completed upgrades in Florence County School District Five include new flooring at schools, HVAC upgrades and lighting within the district. Some renovations were also being done at the district office this springs.

Technology upgrades were completed at the schools, including a new instructional area in the Johnsonville High School media center that contains a touch screen display, new laptop cart, flexible seating and a “Read-a-Latte” Café.

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