The Ramsey Board of Education is considering a new video surveillance system at the high school that members say would address some of the security concerns at the school.
Board member Jim Meiman, who heads an ad hoc security committee formed last March to investigate potential security upgrades at the high school, proposed at Tuesday night’s board meeting adding over 80 video cameras and a visitor management system to the school.
Meiman said the cameras would help address some of the major concerns that have developed over the years, like graffiti and vandalism, theft, unauthorized access, bullying and sexual harassment.
The cameras would be placed at various locations inside and outside the building, including all of the hallways on every floor, the gyms, cafeteria, auditorium, outside the locker rooms, on the fields and other gathering spots outside and at all of the building’s 21 doorways, including the access points to the roof. According to Meiman, the age of the building, number of doors it has, age of the students in the school, and the open campus policy at lunchtime all support the need for a video surveillance system.
“We want extra eyes [on the campus],” Meiman said.
The cameras, which would be purchased and maintained by an IT company called Promedia, would run continuously outside and be motion-censored inside. District officials and the Ramsey Police Department could access the footage they record via the web-based system.
So that the committee’s proposal did not include the need for additional staffing, the cameras would not be continuously monitored. Instead, Meiman said the cameras would act as a deterrent, and be used forensically after an incident occurred. Camera footage would be stored for a length of time after it recorded, likely around two weeks Promedia representatives at the meeting Tuesday said.
The cameras would cost the district about $325,000 to install this summer, plus software update fees each subsequent year.
A separate component of the proposal included a visitor management system, which would scan the driver’s licenses of all visitors to the building, alert school officials of any “reasons that person should not be there,” log the time they spent in the school, and print visitor passes, Promedia sales representative Barbara Sita explained.
That system would cost the district an additional $5-6,000.
School officials and board members said they felt the system would be a good start to updating the security system at the high school.
“It’s high time for Ramsey to make an investment in the safety and security of our students and staff,” Meiman said.
Interim Superintendent Bruce DeYoung added that he felt the updates are “long overdue.”
DeYoung also said school officials are meeting next week to discuss possible security upgrades at the district's four other schools. And, if the cameras are approved and successful at the high school, they could be added to the other schools in the future for less money than the initial installation costs, officials said.
The board is expected to vote on the proposal at a future meeting. Residents at the meeting Tuesday night said they felt the cameras were a good first step in improving school security at RHS.