Board of Education authorizes replacement of Paly speaker system after lockdown
A new speaker, clock, and bell system will be installed at Palo Alto High School following a unanimous vote by the Palo Alto Unified District School Board authorizing an upgrade of the school’s system at a board meeting Tuesday night.
The vote comes in the wake of a March 30 lockdown resulting from a bogus active shooter threat called in to Palo Alto High School. Concerns about school safety arose after the school’s speaker system did not function in several classrooms and locations around campus, and failed to alert students out of earshot that the school was under lockdown.
Palo Alto High School senior Mia Bloom, who expressed support for improving the system, spoke on the consequences of a malfunctioning speaker system in a crisis moment like a lockdown.
“I know people in classrooms who didn’t hear the announcement,” Bloom said. “If we actually had someone on campus with a gun, and a whole classroom didn’t know, they could have all died.”
The current analog system, which has been installed in some buildings for over 20 years, will be replaced with a modernized Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) system, which allows messages and announcements to be delivered through the internet rather than a phone system, meaning it will not shut down in a power outage as the previous system would.
Additionally, an increased number of speakers around campus will mean that announcements and bells will be audible to students anywhere on campus.
Palo Alto High School senior Nicole Keegan, who deemed the installation of a new system a “necessary thing”, was attending class inside the MAC at the time of the lockdown. She noted that the announcement urging people to take shelter in classrooms did not reach many students.
“I was in the MAC [Media Arts Center] when we went on lockdown, and there were so many people sitting in the atrium who had no idea what was going on,” Keegan said.
According to Robert Golton, PAUSD’s bond program manager, the new system will benefit campus security.
“This new system will allow district staff to better monitor areas that may not be working properly,” Golton said.
The estimated cost of the project is $120,000, and it will be completed over the summer in time for the 2018-19 school year.