Rancho Santa Fe School District to install electronic locks on classroom doors

The Rancho Santa Fe School District will pay $424,000 for a system of electronic locks for classroom doors and perimeter fencing at its R. Roger Rowe campus.

The school board voted 4-1 to move forward with the project at its meeting on Thursday, March 14. Board President Sarah Neal cast the lone vote in opposition. The district is hiring Accurate Security Pros, Inc. to install and maintain the system.

Before the vote, board members stressed that the money will come from the district’s capital facilities fund, and cannot be used for teacher salaries. Earlier in the meeting, the board heard a presentation from Superintendent Donna Tripi, who is proposing to eliminate 17 full- and part-time teaching positions next year due to an anticipated budget deficit of $806,000.

In opposing the project, Neal said she was concerned that ongoing costs for maintenance and replacement parts for the system, as well as training, could eventually impact the district’s general fund, which covers salaries and other ongoing operational costs.

“My experience is that expensive technology is expensive to maintain,” Neal said.

The system will include ID card readers and perimeter gate controls, as well as electronic locks for the school’s 71 doors to classrooms and other occupied spaces. Unlike the current mechanical door locks, the electronic locks can be operated from inside the classroom. Also, an indicator light will show from the inside whether the door is locked.

A safety consultant hired by the district recommended the electronic access system as a way of enhancing security at the campus.

The contract for the project includes training for school staff and a one-year service agreement.