Archived Story

An expensive problem

Published 8:45pm Monday, December 3, 2012

Teachers often pin notes for parents to the shirts of young students who are prone to losing them.
When students say they lost their homework, they can expect a zero for the assignment.
So, what happens when school staff loses keys?
Not much.
Up to now, there has been no specific Beaufort County Schools policy in place that addresses the issue. The school board asked Superintendent Don Phipps to work on a plan to deal with what has become an expensive problem for the district.
The average key costs the district $10,000 to $30,000 to replace because locks are changed. When a school had to be rekeyed a couple of years ago, the district paid $15,000.
Lose a master key and the district will be out $50,000 to $100,000. That’s enough to pay a few school-related salaries.
Patrick Abele, executive director of BCS’ auxiliary services, recently received three internal key requests in one week. One of the requests was for a whole set of keys.
Phipps will have to tread lightly on this issue. A school board in Ottawa, Canada, has spent three years in court after a teacher’s union claimed charging $350 to $500 per key violated teachers’ contracts.
Teachers at Beaufort County Schools do not have a union. But they do have Terry Williams.
At a recent building-committee meeting, school-board member Williams scoffed at the idea of punishing or charging a teacher who loses a key.
The loss of thousands of dollars should result in more than a slap on the wrist. But there is another solution. The school system should consider replacing expensive locks with keyless entry systems. Abele said BCS has started doing so in elementary schools where there are many locked doors in constant use.
The district has not had the keyless entries in place long enough to determine whether it’s a good return on the investment of installation and maintenance. In the long run, we think it will be.
Phipps and Abele will present a draft key policy to the board at the Dec. 10 meeting of the Building, Grounds and Finance Committee.

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