NEW FRANKLIN  Students in the Manchester Local School district will realize a safer environment when they return to school Aug. 22, with the completion of several security projects this summer.

They will also see technology changes in the form of a managed wireless network throughout the entire district, according to Scott Ross, director of technology for the district and assistant principal of the high school.

Manchester Local Schools Superintendent James Robinson announced to the school board July 11 that security cameras have been installed at the high school and additional lighting added to the middle school and other school buildings, projects which were recommended through a security audit. All projects are scheduled to be completed by the start of the school year.

Robinson has stressed several times to the school board that a more secure district was his priority.

"There are 35 cameras installed at the high school for safety and security of students and teachers as well as property. The cameras are for inside and outside of the building," Robinson said. The cost was approximately $32,000. "The additional lighting was focused on the outside areas of the middle school but also new lighting is being put in other buildings were there are dark spots for security and safety. Again this was due to a security audit for safety of students, teachers and property – since it is still in process a final cost has not been given."

In addition, new safety locks are being installed in all classrooms at Nolley Elementary, due to a security audit for the safety of students and staff. This project is still in and a final cost has not been determined, he said.

"Security and safety projects will be on-going throughout the year to protect the community’s property and more importantly to protect our students and staff," Robinson said. "The managed wireless network is a project made possible through a service called Neonet. Neonet is a crucial part of the services we offer to students, as well as technologies we utilize on a daily basis. Being a part of the Neonet consortium affords us opportunities to save a great deal of money and share best practices with other districts."

The managed wireless network is in the entire district, including nearly 100 access points across the the buildings.

"We are also replacing outdated switches and other equipment," Ross said. "This will allow students and staff to access online resources more efficiently and with more stability, especially as we continue our usage of Chromebooks and move to state-mandated online assessments."

The technology upgrades cost an estimated $200,000, but $100,000 of that cost is covered by E-Rate, which helps eligible schools and libraries to obtain affordable telecommunications and internet access. The program is intended to ensure that schools and libraries have access to affordable telecommunications and information services."

Robinson said the remainder of the technology cost upgrades were financed through Neonet at an interest rate of 3.1 percent.