Concerns arise over new security fences around portable schools

Concerns arise over new security fences around portable schools in Knox Co.

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Tuesday morning, crews were seen installing a fence around the perimeter of Fountain City Elementary School, which includes the areas around the school's playground and portable classrooms. Tuesday morning, crews were seen installing a fence around the perimeter of Fountain City Elementary School, which includes the areas around the school's playground and portable classrooms.
"I didn't know anything else was needed. We have security cameras and I felt safe enough with that," said Heather Debord, a parent of a Fountain City Elementary School student. "I didn't know anything else was needed. We have security cameras and I felt safe enough with that," said Heather Debord, a parent of a Fountain City Elementary School student.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -  6 News is learning that several Knox County Schools are installing new security measures, including fencing around portable classrooms.  

Tuesday morning, crews were seen installing a fence around the perimeter of Fountain City Elementary School, which includes the areas around the school's playground and portable classrooms.

"I didn't know anything else was needed. We have security cameras and I felt safe enough with that," said Heather Debord, a parent of a Fountain City Elementary School student.  

The fencing is expected to be complete by the end of this week.    

Heather Debord and her son Luke are wondering why the fence is being installed.  

"It sort of makes me nervous, like they're expecting something to happen," said Luke, a 5th grade student at Fountain City Elementary.  

Knox County Schools Spokesperson Melissa Ogden says there have been concerns around the aesthetics of the fencing to be erected at Fountain City Elementary. 

Odgen says the school system is "taking a step back and discussing that further."

The work at Fountain City Elementary is being done by Stanley Fencing, the company that's contracted with the Knox County Schools System to install fencing.  

The company‘s owner Jackie Stanley tell 6 News they recently finished installing fences to secure portable classrooms at Central High, Blue Grass Elementary and Mooreland Heights Elementary School in South Knoxville.  

The Knox County School system wouldn't tell us how exactly the new fencing will be protecting it's schools, but fencing is included in this year's capital budget plan.  

A memo sent in April 2013 by Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said "Proper fencing will also be an important component of the access control strategy at some of our schools and we have included that in our funding estimates."  

Fencing is part of security enhancements the school system refers to as "Secure Entry Vestibules."  The school system budgeted $2 million this year for upgrades for secure entry vestibules, but it's unknown how much of that is dedicated for fence instillation.

Parents of Mooreland Heights Elementary School students say a nearly 6 foot fence with a gate was completed Monday, located in the rear of the school around the portable classrooms.

"I just don't like the look of it, it's just not friendly," said Steve Summers, a Mooreland Heights parent.  

There are others who think the changes could help.

As the tragic events of Sandy Hook proved, no school is too safe.  

"I think it helps considerably. All they had was a gate, now they have a big fence, which I think is an improvement," said Kathy Thompson, a grandparent of a Mooreland Heights Elementary student.

There are 256 portable classrooms in Knox County, housed in 133 portable buildings.

In a 6 News investigation in November 2013- we found several of those classrooms were without fencing.

A safety review committee formed after a shooting at Inskip Elementary School back in 2010 addressed the safety of those buildings.

Back then, Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said installing gates at Inskip Elementary School would provide better secure access for the portable classrooms that we have at the front of the school."  

Stanley Fencing's owner  tells 6 News they are in the process of replacing the fence in front of Inskip Elementary.

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