County schools get grants to beef up security

EVERETT — With school safety increasingly in the news, eight Snohomish County public districts are installing new systems to ensure classrooms and offices can communicate with law enforcement in times of emergency.

A new law requires the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to make grants available to districts to pay for the installation of digital tools for communication and surveillance. The districts had discretion as to what to buy, but all in Snohomish County have chosen a system offered by Framingham, Massachusetts-based Rave Mobile Safety.

The Rave system consists of software for computers and smartphones as well as cameras and direct links to police departments and 911 call centers.

OSPI is giving nearly $7 million to 80 school districts statewide after the Legislature in 2013 passed a bill requiring districts to implement “emergency response systems using evolving technology to expedite the response and arrival of law enforcement in the event of a threat or emergency at a school.”

The Everett School District will use its grant of $800,000 to install the Rave system, establish other new security measures and train the staffs of 26 schools.

Other school districts receiving the grants were Monroe ($41,880), Arlington ($34,992), Lakewood ($23,328), Snohomish ($66,096), Stanwood-Camano ($34,216) and Sultan ($15,552). All the districts plan to have the new systems installed during the coming school year.

Rave’s system allows first responders and law enforcement officers to have instant access to school maps, live communication with school personnel and real-time camera surveillance.

In Everett, the Rave system will include “panic button” software on faculty phones and computers.

Three law enforcement agencies have jurisdiction in the sprawling Everett School District: the Everett Police Department, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and the Mill Creek Police Department. Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Molly Ringo says the Rave Mobile Safety system makes it possible for them all to receive emergency information simultaneously.

“One of the best outcomes of this grant application is how it brought together all of the law enforcement and emergency responders to work on one goal,” Ringo said.

The Everett School District plans to retire an existing security camera system.

Cameras will be located at exterior doors, in corridors, common spaces, parking lots, sports fields and student gathering places outside schools. They will not be in bathrooms, locker rooms or classrooms.

Besides secondary and primary schools, Rave Mobile Safety serves 1,000 college campuses across the country.

Brenna Holland: 425-339-5350; bholland@heraldnet.com.

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