Board wants more cameras in schools
Believe system should be linked to Sheriff’s Office
School Board member John Smith said although the current surveillance system, which includes 351 cameras in schools across the district, has functioned well it is time for an upgrade.
“During the recent session of the state legislature security was a big topic as a result of all of the issues that took place at school as far as shootings and that sort of thing,” he said.
Smith said the school district is looking at models already in place.
“I was really impressed with Bossier and Caddo (parishes), they had unique systems in place where their systems were linked to the police department. For example, if there was a burglary the police could monitor that and pull up specific sections of buildings and check it out,” he said.
The school district is looking at creating a similar system that would allow law enforcement officers access to the surveillance system so they could more properly provide instructions to first responders in the event of a crisis.
Smith said it the responsibility of the School Board to keep up with new technology.
“If we did not keep up with the latest trends in technology we would be negligent. I think this is one of the most important responsibilities that we can have to protect the safety of children and our staff and personnel,” he said.
Currently the plan is in preliminary talks and there is no budget set aside for it.
Despite not having a budget, School Board member Al Suffrin said the plan for a comprehensive surveillance system is necessary no matter the cost.
“As an accountant I always look at things from a cost-benefit relationship, and when it comes to safety of course there is great benefit. That is something from a cost standpoint that is easier to justify because when it comes to the safety of our children that is not something we can ever take lightly,” he said.
Suffrin said the new system is needed not only to upgrade current technology, but because of the growth the district has seen since the current system was installed.
“The size of each campus is getting larger, particularly with the two high schools that are almost like college campuses,” he said. “The surveillance cameras help us with those areas that administrators can’t always cover.”
St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said although the plan is in the preliminary stages right now, he is looking forward to seeing a proposal from the School Board.
“I am certainly interested and listening with an open mind about this or any other proposal that could enhance the safety of our students,” he said.
As far as the importance of installing such a plan, Smith was very clear on his views.
“We need to start yesterday,” he said.
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