No decision on lost key policy

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

At a meeting this week, the Beaufort County Schools Building/Grounds and Finance Committee tabled any decision on a lost key policy until more information could be obtained.

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.

“I’d really like to find out what other districts are doing,” said Don Phipps, superintendent of Beaufort County Schools. “I’m concerned about it and shared with my principles the other day, somebody’s got to pay and once that money is spent, we can’t spend it again.”

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.

Patrick Abele, executive director of BCS’ auxiliary services, told board members at the November meeting he had recently received three internal key requests in one week. One of the requests was for a whole set of keys.

Since the committee met last November, another set of school keys have had to be replaced. The approximate cost to key the building was $10,000.

The keys were stolen after an employee’s car was burglarized, Abele said. The employee provided a copy of the incident’s police report.

In his previous district, Phipps said he asked for his school to be the one to test a keyless entry system. The school was outfitted with the system at the beginning of the school year. The system worked so well that all of the schools had adopted the system by spring break.

The system included a keypad option and a card scanner. Each employee had a card and if it was lost, it could be deactivated. The system also allowed cards to be set for daytime use only.

“We’re inspecting a number of places and trying to anticipate the costs,” Phipps said.

Committee member Terry Williams said the lost key issue was a symptom of a problem that could be inexpensively solved.

“I don’t see the need for so many people to have keys. I think we have to first decide who needs them,” Williams said.

Right now, without a policy, Phipps said the school principals decide who gets keys.

The Building/Grounds and Finance Committee’s next scheduled meeting is Jan. 7 at 1 p.m.