The second largest school system in Georgia replaced its mechanical key system with card access control for better management and tighter security.


The Cobb County School District (CCSD), the second largest school system in Georgia, which serves more than 106,000 students with a total of 114 schools, upgraded access at its elementary schools with a Schlage card access control system that helps ensure security for students and staff. Concurrently, it simplifies access management and reduces maintenance costs.

Before the upgrade, access to all schools was controlled by mechanical keys. Executive Director, Maintenance Services James H. Carlson says, “The keys were marked ‘Do Not Duplicate,’ but there were thousands of keys out there. Each school was responsible for managing its own keys, so it was hard to know who had them.”

To determine whether electronic access control was feasible, CCSD ran a pilot test at one elementary school, installing Schlage card readers and Von Duprin electric latch retraction exit devices at the five most-used entrances, including main doors, bus entrance, exit doors and playground doors. All other exterior doors were locked and monitored. Being successful, the system was installed throughout the district.

The system provides flexibility to accommodate school schedules. It unlocks and relocks controlled doors according to schedules during school hours. The system is programmed to eliminate automatically opening for holidays throughout the entire school year and occasional snow days are easy to program.

Card access makes it easier to issue and delete credentials than issuing new keys or getting them returned if someone leaves. Deleting a lost card also is considerably less expensive than rekeying multiple doors. In addition, cards at the school district can be programmed to operate for a limited time or specific hours to control access for contractors or other special needs.

Carlson says that the human resources department issues the cards once background checks are complete. Each school can then give an employee the right to access its building as required.