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EBR School Board weighs $2.3M 'panic button' proposal in wake of deadly Tennessee attack

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BATON ROUGE - Teachers, students, and parents all around the country are fearful that their school could be the next site of a school shooting.

That's why the East Baton Rouge School Board heard a presentation Thursday for a proposed $2.3 million panic button that could make schools safer.

"Every school system in the country has been considering things they can do to bolster security," EBR Director of Communications Ben Lemoine told WBRZ.

The panic button would be worn like a badge by teachers. If there is an active shooter, a medical emergency, or a fight, the teacher can press the button, alerting the proper authorities.

"One of the important things to consider about this is the immediacy. Not to be cliche, but in an emergency, whether it be medical or a security issue, seconds really do count," Lemoine said.

But some, like Jamie Robinson, who represents District 7 on the Democratic Parish Executive Committee say there need to be more proactive measures to keep kids safe.

"That is reactive. By the time a shooter gets on campus and a faculty member sees that and presses the panic button, their lives and the lives of our children could already be gone," Robinson told WBRZ.

Robinson says a panic button could be a good idea down the line, but right now he thinks there are other cost-effective ways to ensure safety. Some school board members agree.

"We need deterrence. We have schools without fences. Let's put that in place. We have elementary schools without resource officers, let's put that in place," Robinson said. "It is a waste of money. It is a frivolous way to spend our public dollars."

But some board members say they do agree with the idea. Lemoine says this new technology would be a great way to keep schools safe, despite the cost.

"I think anything we can provide to teachers to make them as safe as possible is a win. It's a good thing and that is what we are here to do," Lemoine said.

The board won't vote on the proposal until after the 2023-2024 school year budget is in place.

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