Hollywood actor Vince Vaughn caused a dustup earlier this month when he advocated for Second Amendment rights and suggested that teachers and school administrators carry guns for protection.

Additionally, a recent AP article by Kimberlee Kruesi, shows that some schools have gone the route of training and arming their staff, such those in the rural Garden Valley School District in Idaho, where the closest police officers are at least 45 minutes away:

Incidents of school violence through the years have raised the controversial issue of how far school administrators should go in setting up security measures. Despite this debate, Onvia’s database of government contracting business intelligence shows that school districts continue to take a proactive approach by issuing bids & RFPs that further promote safe learning environments for students.

Schools Opt for On-Site Security Guards

Other than a few outliers, such as Idaho’s Garden Valley School District, most schools haven’t gone as far as Vaughn suggested. However, the minimum presence of a police officer, or school resource officer on-campus, has become almost as standard as the grade scale.

In the wake of the December 2012 high-profile school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, the demand for security officers in schools doesn’t appear to be slowing either, in fact it’s holding steady. Onvia’s Project Center shows that in 2013, 97 bids & RFPs were published and 77 contract awards were issued; in 2014, 95 bids & RFPs were published and 83 contract awards were issued.

Released an RFP in January 2015 for a three-year contract for security guard services that include building access control, roving patrols and identification verification.

Interestingly, while most school districts seem to agree with the need for some security presence on-site, not all feel that they should be armed:

Awarded U.S. Security Associates Inc. a contract in April 2015 for unarmed security guard services for the district’s K-12 schools. The company is the incumbent contractor and the previous contract is valued at $450,000.

Surveillance Systems in Schools

In addition to onsite resource officers or security guards, many school districts have invested funds to detect and record what’s happening in and around their schools with security and surveillance systems, including security cameras.

Onvia’s Project Center shows that in 2013, school districts published 943 bids and RFPs for the purchase, design, installation and maintenance of security systems; 845 were published in 2014. School districts also awarded 501 contracts in 2013 and 486 in 2014.

Issued a bid in March 2015 to upgrade and install new video surveillance systems in five of the district’s schools.
Released an RFP in February 2015 to provide a video monitoring system at Kirkwood High School. The contractor would provide the hardware and software, along with the installation and training needed to operate the system.
Awarded Holb-Sierra Corp. a $1 million contract in November 2014 for video surveillance equipment, installation, service, and repairs.

Securing Schools with Metal Detectors

Schools are also investing in metal detectors, both for entryways and handheld applications. Through 2013-2014, school districts released 192 bids & RFPs and issued 160 awards related to the purchase, design, installation and/or maintenance of metal detectors.

Released a bid in March 2014 for a company to furnish, install and calibrate 15 walk-through metal detectors. The district also wants onsite training.
Issued a bid in February 2015 for the purchase of hand-held metal detectors.
Awarded Event Metal Detectors, LLC an eight-year contract worth $299,800 in June 2014 for the purchase, maintenance and training of walk-through metal detectors.

Opportunities Await to Help Schools in Create Safe Learning Environments

School districts have become laser focused on student safety in recent years. Citing figures from the National Center for Education Statistics, a recent article by Emily DeRuy states “during the 2009-10 school year, less than 60 percent of schools had plans in place for how to handle a shooting. Now, nearly nine out of 10 have written a plan, and seven out of 10 schools have drilled their students on active shooter situations.”

School districts are clearly willing to invest funds to achieve the goal of creating truly safe learning environment for students. As they get closer to achieving that goal, the data shows that they plan to continue spending in the coming years. For example, Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center, which looks at agency budget and planning documents, shows that nearly 4,000 school districts are planning for security system design and installation projects and to hire on-site security services over the next three years.

Government contractors in industries that provide security services, products and installation should keep a close eye on how the continued demand for safe and secure schools effects the number of bids & RFPs that are being published. Contractors have an opportunity to build their education sales pipeline and help schools provide a secure & safe environment for students.