There are two truisms of K-12 schools that exist today:

First, safety and security are core objectives. Second, school budgets are tight.

K-12 schools have traditionally been perceived as safe havens where children can learn and develop. Unfortunately, K-12 schools are increasingly being subjected to violence, vandalism, and theft. Teachers are expressing growing concerns about their personal safety as they intervene in physical conflicts within schools while also encountering students carrying firearms or other weapons on school premises. Even more sobering - more than 360,000 students in the U.S. have experienced gun violence at school in the past 24 years.

Further compounding the situation, schools and their administrators are on tight budgets. Pandemic relief funding has kept many school initiatives afloat over the past few years, but in the rush spend on new high-tech solutions, many of the basics were left behind. With pandemic aid all but exhausted, school districts are having to do more with less.

These two truisms offer more questions than answers for superintendents, principals, teachers, board members, and parents. What school security solutions can we deploy that actively prevent violence in schools? How can we cost-effectively implement such tools? We want to improve K12 security and efficiency at the same time, but how?

Key Control Systems Provide a Viable and Economically Feasible Solution

Key Control in a K-12 Environment

At their most basic level, school key control systems are designed to securely protect keys in an electronic key cabinet. At their most complex, key control systems are an integral piece of the larger security puzzle – helping schools of all sizes manage security and operations effectively during times of both emergency situations and daily operations.

In a traditional school key control system, keys are securely stored within an individual electronic key cabinet with each key uniquely assigned and tracked. Authorized users gain access to specific keys by providing their credentials, such as a PIN or biometric authentication, which grants them permission to remove a key from its designated cabinet. This enables schools to effectively manage and track access to various areas throughout a building and/or campus, thus minimizing the risk of unauthorized entry or loss of keys.

Integrated software further enhances the functionality of the key control system. A user-friendly interface allows administrators to manage and configure access permissions, generate detailed reports, and receive notifications about key-related activities. Additionally, the software can be integrated with other security systems, such as school access control or video surveillance systems, creating a holistic security solution.

Key Control Reduces Security Expenses

What’s more, key management systems are a cost-effective solution that proactively reduces a school’s security spend. By reducing the possibility of lost keys and limiting access to master keys to authorized individuals, school districts can save thousands in unforeseen re-keying costs. Electronic asset management lockers integrated with a key control cabinet likewise safeguard critical assets ranging from laptops to sensitive files, reducing the opportunity for theft and improving compliance. These types of physical access controls also improve campus security for a lower cost than that of armed security guards and contracted off-duty police.

Key Control Improves School Security

A key control system offers significant school security benefits, particularly when it comes to emergency situations such as active shooter events. By utilizing a centralized key control system, schools can ensure that emergency keys are securely housed and readily accessible to local first responders. Responding officers can swiftly retrieve the required keys, such as those for locked classrooms or secured areas, enabling them to enter and address the situation promptly. Rapid first responder key access significantly improves response times and effectiveness during critical incidents and gives parents peace of mind, knowing that their children's school is equipped with robust security measures to handle emergencies efficiently.

Morse Watchmans has designed a new solution exclusively designed for K-12 Schools called the Emergency Key Grab (EKG) kit. The new EKG kit is designed to provide first responders with easy access to keys in the event of a lockdown or emergency. The Morse Watchmans EKG kit contains:

  • A 1-module or greater KeyWatcher Touch System

  • Color-coded SmartKeys and KeyRing with Hubs

  • Unique KeyWatcher System First Response KeyRing Identification Label

  • Educational Materials: Implementing Key Control in K-12 Schools Tip Sheet and K-12 Schools Key Control Playbook Hardcopies

  • One-on-one Educational Training from Morse Watchmans

  • Template and Guidelines for Writing a K-12 School District Key Control Policy

The EKG can save a life! Don’t wait, contact us today to learn more about the benefits of an EKG in your school!


In addition to facilitating emergency response, a key control system in K-12 schools enhances general security protocols. These systems enable schools to centralize key management, ensuring that keys are always properly secured and accounted for, and only accessible by authorized personnel. This comprehensive key management solution can significantly reduce the likelihood of security breaches, vandalism and theft at K-12 schools.

Furthermore, the key tracking software provides administrators with real-time visibility and monitoring capabilities, allowing them to track who has accessed keys, when, and for what purpose. This helps schools better comply with FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) that requires schools to closely control access to private medical and academic files. Enforcing employee accountability effectively strengthens security measures and fosters a safer environment for students, faculty, and staff.

Key Control Improves School Operations

Beyond enhancing security, a key control or school asset manager system can significantly improve the efficiency of school maintenance teams. With a centralized key control system, maintenance personnel can quickly access the keys necessary for completing their required tasks, eliminating time-consuming searches for the right key or reliance on multiple key copies. By providing a streamlined process for accessing keys, maintenance teams can promptly respond to maintenance requests while ensuring that doors are secured and unlocked as needed, thus minimizing disruptions to the school's operations.

Key control systems additionally provide the flexibility of localized access for contracted workers. Contractors, such as HVAC repairmen or IT technicians, can receive access to individual keys with location specifical access granted only for areas they need to work over specific time periods. The school key control software keeps a record of their key usage, allowing administrators to track a worker’s activities and ensure accountability. This granular level of key control allows school administrators to grant temporary access to contracted workers while maintaining overall security.

Key control systems also offer significant benefits for the management of a school’s fleet vehicles, such as buses and other vehicles. With school bus fleet management software integrated into a key control system, administrators can effectively track and control the usage of school busses district-wide. Administrators can retrieve data on the status of any bus, shuttle, or other vehicle at any time. A fleet key management system provides a clear record of who has used a specific vehicle key, enabling administrators to monitor vehicle availability, maintenance schedules, and overall fleet utilization.

By deploying Morse Watchmans' key control and intelligent inventory management systems, schools can effectively address security concerns, optimize operations, and make efficient use of resources. Our proven implementation of key control systems in K-12 environments offers schools a reliable and cost-effective solution that promotes a safe and efficient educational environment.  It’s all part of our outside-the-box thinking – that you’ll find right inside the box.

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