LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The focus on school safety has increased in recent years— and as the new school year begins, we looked at some security upgrades made in Central Arkansas’s largest school district.
We spoke with the Director of Safety and Security, Ron Self, for the Little Rock School District to see what’s been implemented so far.
“The Little Rock School District is very fortunate in that we’ve been doing a lot of the “new” things for several years now,” said Self when the district laid out its safety plan in 2022.
Last year, former governor Asa Hutchinson reinstated the ‘Arkansas School Safety Commission’ following the tragic Uvalde school shooting in Texas.
The commission met for months and finished with a hefty list of safety recommendations for schools, including body armor for school resource officers and expanding mental health training to any staff member that works with students.
To help implement these statewide recommendations, LRSD will be receiving a cut of $800,000 dollars from a $50 million dollar grant.
“We are well into spending that. We’re probably about maybe third of the way through that funding already. So we’re trying to get and we’re gonna hit every campus,” Self described.
The district is also well into finishing up safety projects, including adding weapon detection systems at the entrances of all secondary schools and upgraded IP cameras on every campus before this school year begins.
“We’re in those last running stages, so to speak, of getting all the elementary schools done with which is little over 5,000 cameras district-wide,” he added.
As for keeping the building entrances and exits secure, LRSD is an access control district— but they’ll still be extending added protection.
“[We have] access control for all of our entry doors.” Self explained.” However, we’re now adding additional access control to ancillary doors, such as doors that go out to playgrounds and various other things.
Another major safety measure is the district’s use of Centegix, the crisis alert system.
Every staff member gets a badge, which in the event of an emergency, can be used to set off an actual full school lockdown with the press of a button.
Light strobes and speakers can help tell people what a threat is, if there is one.
Self explained that student safety is not only a point of concern for parents— LRSD wants it to be a comprehensive effort.
“Safety in our world is an everyday thing. Everybody’s taking ownership in that building and letting us know what’s going on,” he said.
As for what’s to come with the new school year, patrol units that handle elementary-level bus stops have now been equipped with Narcan.
Plus, LRSD staff will be doing drill trainings with the safety and security team before school starts on the 14th.