New security cameras for schools, but no buzzer system

Greene County school buildings will have updated security, but visitors will be able to enter without being “buzzed in” as discussed at previous board meetings.

The board of education at its June 15 regular meeting approved spending $48,179 for hardware and software to upgrade security cameras installed in 2005 and in 2007.

The cost includes upgrading the analog cameras at the high school, middle school and the elementary school. New 16-channel video encoders will convert the analog video to digital content, making the images clearer and able to be sent via the Internet or through a mobile app for monitoring.

The cameras installed when the intermediate school was remodeled in 2012 are IP cameras (can send and receive data via a computer network and the Internet). Those cameras, along with the cameras at the three other school buildings and the administrative building, will connect to the network video recorder (NVR) at the high school.

School technology director Tim Buenz did a demonstration project earlier this year using the eight cameras at the administration building before recommending a system-wide project. Buenz said the recorders in use with the current system are no longer supported and that he had to buy parts on eBay to fix the hard drive on the system at the elementary school.

According to Buenz, purchasing the encoders and more storage is a cost-effective intermediate step to implementing new security system technology. New IP cameras cost $600 each, Buenz said. Using the encoders on existing cameras will allow the new technology to be phased in rather than making a large purchase.

The board discussed school security at the April and May meetings, with much time spent weighing pros and cons of a system that would require visitors to be “buzzed in”. Compliance with that sort of system was of concern, as was the amount of time office staff would need to spend letting visitors in. Board member Sam Harding, who has visited several schools with similar systems, said they create “an illusion of security” but don’t make schools more secure.

Walsh Electronic Security of Des Moines is the vendor for the new purchase. Funding will come from the physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL).


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