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Multiple counties receive $434,000 for school security

CHAMBERS — State Rep. Bob Fincher (R-Woodland) recently helped make available more than $434,000 in new funding for school security enhancements, technology upgrades, and other needs in Chambers, Randolph, and Cleburne County schools.

According to Fincher, the funds are intended to help with a wide variety of needs.

“Two of the most important tasks that educators have today is implementing security upgrades and protocols that keep our children free from harm and providing the resources necessary to prepare them for the 21st Century workforce,” he stated in a press release.

“More than $434,000 will be awarded to school systems in my House district, and these funds from the Alabama Advancement and Technology Fund may be used to purchase education technology and equipment, complete needed repairs and maintenance, and upgrade school bus fleets.

“Because we recognize the importance of keeping our children, teachers, and administrators safe and secure while on campus, my colleagues and I passed a law allowing school security equipment, enhancements, and updates to be purchased with these dollars, as well.”

In a later interview, Fincher expounded on this, saying the legislature has tried for some time to help improve security at public schools.

“The good thing is the bill freed up funds,” he said. “The schools are free to use the money for the greatest need. We won’t micromanage.”

Fincher noted that education has been a priority of his time in office.

“We do a lot at the state level to improve education,” he said, adding that he spent 31 years as a public school teacher and five years at a private school. “It’s very important to me.”

Chambers County Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge expressed her thanks for the funds and noted that purchases have already been made with more coming next month.

“For the current [financial] year, we’ve upgraded entirely to magnetic lock systems for all of our elementary and middle schools,” the superintendent said. “After Oct. 1, the rest of the funds will go toward upgrading security cameras at county high schools. They were very outdated.”

Hodge noted that everyone in the county school system are grateful for the upgrades.

“It’s taken a load off of us,” she said. “We wanted and needed to make these changes but didn’t have the funds. It’s a financial burden that’s been lifted.”

LaFayette High School Principal Don Turner mirrored Hodge’s thanks.

“It’s been a great thing,” he said.

With the burden of making these security upgrades taken care of, Hodge noted that the next desired changed will be to add more school resource officer’s. Currently, the Chambers County School System has three.

“In a utopia, we would have one per school, 11 in total,” she said, “but right now we would like to have three more. It would be a huge gain.”