MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – At South Pointe Elementary School on Miami Beach a steel fence surrounds the playground. There is a security camera over the front door. A sign orders visitors to check in at the office. But the school is very much in the running for a much more extensive and pricey safety upgrade.
The Stanley Security Company is promoting a competition that has schools across the country vying for a half million dollars worth of security cameras, panic alarms, reinforced lockdown doors, heavy duty dead bolts and other safety hardware and technology – stuff to keep evil away from the innocent.
“Are you afraid when you come to school?” CBS4 Reporter Gary Nelson asked Jackson Mopsick, a fifth grader.
” A little,” the boy replied. “Like, when I hear stuff on the news like assault and stuff, I want to keep our school safer.”
Second grader Nandika Yadav echoed concerns about security.
“We don’t really have that much security equipment here, and we want to keep our school very safe,” Nandika said.
Since a massacre called Columbine, and more recently Sandy Hook, parents and children worry about safety at school.
The competition now underway allows people to vote for schools by text or online. The winning school will get $200,000 in security improvements, with three runner up schools getting $100,000 each.
With volunteer time and talent from parents, South Pointe has produced a slick YouTube promo that would make Madison Avenue envious.
“Keep us safe! Keep us safe!” chant students in the video. Students, teachers and parents tell viewers they can vote often – once a day.
The P.R. campaign has put South Pointe in sixth place among more than 1,200 schools nationwide – leaving the school poised to possibly win outright or claim a runner up spot.
Gloria Estefan has tweeted her nearly half million followers to vote for the hometown school.
“Everybody’s working diligently to insure that we are the winners and to make sure there’s a safer school out there and we’ll be that school,” said Principal Melanie Fishman.
Teacher Rachelle Arkin credited the tireless work of parents with bringing South Pointe into the top ten of competing schools.
“They are such a driving force in the school,” Arkin said of the parents. “This was really important to them and they decided that they were going to do everything possible to make everybody aware.”
The contest has, of course, brought publicity to Stanley Security, publicity not begrudged by parents who have campaigned relentlessly.
“We don’t see this as a victory for Stanley,” said parent Faiza Liban. “We see this as a legacy for our school. So it’s a win/win situation for both of us.”
If South Pointe wins the competition or nabs a runner up spot, it will be icing on the security cake. A bond issue passed by Miami-Dade voters will see protection enhanced at most schools, including a new security video system at South Pointe.
Those wishing to vote for South Pointe can do so by going to www.stanleysaferschools.com, or by texting “South Pointe Elementary School” to 99222.