Bayless updates communication system districtwide with federal security grant

By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

In late 2020, Bayless School District received $400,000 in the form of a security grant, meaning it can be used for coordination with law enforcement or other security issues in a district.

Bayless is using the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) School Violence Prevention Program grant to improve its communication system across the district. Assistant Superintendent Michael Hawkins said communication systems are a key part of safety, especially when all of the district’s buildings are on one campus.

“Communication is always one of the tough areas for schools, especially older schools like Bayless,” Hawkins said. “Trying to consolidate those systems is not an easy task.”

The system update allows each building to be caught up in terms of technology — Hawkins said over time they were getting upgrades at random. 

The new system is from Audio Enhancement, a company that focuses on inter-school communications. It acts as the school intercom while also giving classrooms a direct line to the main office.

“It has some security features that are unique. The teachers have access to a panic button and an emergency notification button,” Hawkins said. “That will notify the office immediately … and it will visually show on a map which room has an emergency. It also has the option to be monitored by St. Louis County police.”

Hawkins said a system like this greatly reduces the time it would take to contact people in case of an emergency. 

The system is currently in the implementation process — hardware and software is in place, but staff still needs to train on how to use it.