District plans to increase security guards in schools

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A school district wants to make its classrooms safer for students nd it’s willing to spend more than half a million dollars to do it.

“We need to have some semblance of security and safety in our schools,” Shelia Boozer, Champaign School District Superintendent, said.

Champaign School District wants to add seven new security guards for the rest of the school year. The school district has added security cameras and used metal detector wands randomly. They are also adding permanent metal detectors at Central and Centennial High School.

Tonight, the school board was looking for approval to solidify a contract to bring in more permanent security guards. They voted to move it forward.

In response to violence in the community and surrounding some schools, Champaign’s school board met to make a new plan.

“At some places you could have a scaled back officer that is more laid back, with not such a strong voice or presence, but that voice of presence was more needed at Centennial,” Valarian Couch, Champaign School District, said.

Centennial has been at the center of concerns. Police have been called several times for fights, a student was arrested for pulling out a gun during school and shots were fired outside of the building in the middle of the day. The district is now moving forward on a contract with a Chicago investigative company called AGB.

They plan to have seven security officers. Two at each high school and one at each middle school. The district will pay $559,224.00 to make this happen.

“ABG looks into the community, in which they are located and they find individuals and they help them become a part of the solution of what we want to see happen in our school system,” Boozer said.

In a meeting back in April, the school board had voted to pay the City of Champaign around $300,000 for two school resource officers for one school year, but Champaign police had staffing shortages and had to suspend the program. The district brought in security guards from AGB on a temporary basis, but after seeing what’s happened so far this year they wanted to make them permanent.

“We’re fortunate to have an organization that is ready and willing to do whatever we need to see happen,” Boozer said.

The officers will undergo more training that corresponds with how to work in a school setting.

“We get to create what we want to see in Unit 4 as far as security and safety for all of our students and our staff,” Boozer said.

In the meeting, they also discussed evaluating the officers. They said they would sit down with principals and get daily reports. They said the guards have been responsive to constructive criticism. Lastly, they are looking at hiring someone for a new position as Director of Security.

Meanwhile, last night we told you there was a social media threat targeting “Central High School.” Champaign Police and Unit 4 Schools said that threat was not for Central in Champaign. The post went viral nationally and a suspect in Missouri has been arrested in connection with the threat.

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