At least four Harford County schools will get security systems in 1993, at a cost of $12,000 to $14,000 a school.
The school system, despite tough economic times, decided to make security systems a priority after vandals who broke into Aberdeen High School in August destroyed the school's planetarium.
The vandalism caused about $300,000 in damage to the school, which had no security system.
The school system has two other planetariums, at Southampton Middle and Edgewood High.
L About half of the county's 46 schools have security systems.
"We wanted to install a few each year, but with budget cuts we have not been able to do so," said Albert F. Seymour, the schools spokesman.
School officials were reluctant to say which schools have security systems. Mr. Seymour declined to say whether Aberdeen High does.
Joppatowne High is the most recent school to get a security system.
"What happened at Aberdeen was the final straw," said school board member Ronald Eaton.
"That's when we realized we had to act and couldn't postpone it anymore."
Schools, with their many windows and doors, are difficult to secure, he said. But the payoff is high.
"Schools that have alarm systems have never been compromised," Mr.
Motion-detection sensors send an alarm to the police department about 30 seconds after being activated, he said.
Mr. Seymour said most of the culprits are students at the vandalized school. And when they are caught, parents are required to pay for the damage. Insurance also covers some of the loss.
An arson in Edgewood Middle School's music room last November caused nearly $70,000 in damage.
Insurance has paid about $54,000. Parents of the culprits will repay some of the costs.
In addition to the arson, theft and vandalism last school year cost the school system $60,000, about the same as the previous year.