john i leonard high

Palm Beach County (Fla.) board approves $2.25 million contract to buy metal detectors for all high schools

May 11, 2023
The district would install the detectors at 23 high schools if a pilot program at 4 schools is successful.

The Palm Beach County (Fla.) school board has approved a $2.25 million contract to acquire metal detectors for the entrances of all 23 high schools in the district.

The Palm Beach Post reports that the board approved the contract even though the district has not yet begun a pilot project that called for installing metal detectors in four schools.

Superintendent Mike Burke told the board that the contract it was considering would lock in the price for the districtwide metal detectors, but it wouldn't require the district to buy the equipment until school board members are sure they want to.

"I would not approve a purchase order until we’ve had that chance to debrief after the pilot (program)," Burke said.

The pilot project at John I. Leonard, Palm Beach Lakes, Seminole Ridge, and Palm Beach Gardens high schools would enable the district to determine if scanning up to 3,000 students would lead to delays at the start of the school day. 

The district had hoped to run the pilot program this spring, but supply-chain issues have pushed back delivery of the equipment.

The Palm Beach County district operates 23 high schools that serve nearly 54,000 students.

This school year, school police have confiscated 27 weapons from students, according to district records.

Some board members expressed concern about how to walk back the contract if they decide not to install metal detectors at all high schools, but other members cautioned that voting down the measure could signal that the board isn't serious about campus safety.

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