JACKSONVILLE, Ark. – It won’t take long before realizing people inside the new Jacksonville High School are watching you before you get inside.
“As soon as you come in the front door, you’re immediately monitored on camera,” says Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District Director of Security Chris Oldham.
The new $73 million dollar high school facility has state-of-the-art security features with 250 cameras across campus in every classroom.
“When someone walks in the door, from right here, you can follow them all the way around the room. Wherever they go in this room, you’re going to be able to follow them,” says Oldham.
In addition to a handful of unarmed security guards, this year ten security guards will be carrying a weapon.
The armed guards will not have arresting powers but there will be two School Resource Officers.
Oldham says there’s been extensive training to prepare for this move.
“Applicants went through a drug screen, went through a psychological evaluation and then went through the mandatory state training,” says Oldham.
Oldham, a former law enforcement officer, says protecting students and staff must be priority number one.
“It’s necessary now, we don’t really have a choice anymore. We have to do this to make sure we can keep our scholars and our staff safe,” says Oldham.
The new building also comes with a safe room to use during severe weather and an emergency communication system allowing students and staff to communicate with the entire building with a push of a button.
“With everything that’s happening now, we wanted to go beyond,” says Oldham.
Oldham says it’s a big investment but one that will keep everyone inside safe.
The district is in the process of installing gates at the parking lots which they say will also help control access.
The first day of school is Wednesday.