Wichita Schools Consider $3 Million In Security Upgrades

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Wichita schools superintendent John Allison has recommended using $3 million to upgrade the district's "outdated" surveillance system in an effort to boost school security.

The Wichita school board will review the proposal Monday night.

Allison says the current system which features analog cameras and dial-up modems to access video, was put into place 9 years ago. He says it's complex and inefficient.

For example, if there is an incident at a school, security officers have to physically go to that building and pull the surveillance video and make a copy. For a school district with more than 100 schools and a estimated combined 10 million square feet of space, that wastes time and resources, he said.

He says the equipment could be better, too. Allison says to think of your cell phone and how much it has changed for the better during the past decade. He says surveillance video technology has also come a long way.

"Technology changes so rapidly and this (proposal) will give us chance to utilize what's available to improve the safety and security of our schools," Allison said.

The proposed upgrades would include new high-definition cameras, new computers, and a revamped dispatch center that would centralize operations. Video from all the district's schools would be available and accessible at that dispatch center.

"It's absolutely vital," Allison said. "We have to maintain the safety and security of our buildings."

In terms of the buildings themselves, the proposal addresses the safety of school entrances. The district is looking into using electronic doors with keyless entry to better control who is coming in each school.

The proposal has been in the works for more than a year, Allison said. It has drawn ideas from teachers, administrators and local law enforcement.

Parents who talked to KAKE News Friday were almost unanimous in their support.

Jamie Jones has three kids in USD 259. She worries about students "carrying (weapons) in, the stuff they do in the hallways, and the bullying." So, she says the security upgrade is important.

"I feel my kids would be more safe," Jones said.

She and other many other parents agree the $3 million would be worth it so they have that peace of mind.

"It's hard to put a price tag on security for your kids," mother Angie Atwara said. "I think it's a good idea that they upgrade things and keep it up to date that way you know they are safe and protected."

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