Smile, Bald Eagle Area School District students, or at least behave yourself: You’re going to be on camera.
The school district recently received a $25,000 Safe Schools Targeted Grant from the state Department of Education for maintaining safety and preventing violence.
District spokeswoman Rose Hoover said the competitive grant can fund equipment or additional personnel. In October, BEA applied for the grant to purchase 25 fixed dome network cameras developed for recessed ceiling mountings, as well as a Dell PowerEdge R820 surveillance server to power the system.
The server will account for more than 60 percent of the grant.
“Our server isn’t powerful enough to run all these cameras, so we needed another one,” Hoover said. “That was the big expense.”
The cameras are planned for the joint high school/middle school complex in Wingate. According to the district, the system “will improve the safety and security” of the building “by providing a visual record of incidents” within the school and parking lots.
“This equipment will enhance the climate of the Middle/High School because students, teachers and visitors will be afforded the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their safety is a primary concern,” the district said in its grant application.
“These cameras will ensure students and teachers feel more secure in their learning environment, which is a vital part of helping children to learn and succeed.”
Monitors will be located in the schools’ main offices for trained personnel to review them daily. Using passwords, staff also can check video footage via off-site computers. Files will be retained for one week.
Hoover said video evidence should make it easier for the district to investigate and resolve any incidents occurring on school grounds. Videos also can be shown to parents.
“It gives a video file of what actually happened,” Hoover said. “It’s then not so much a ‘he said/she said’ incident.”
Statewide, $2.6 million in funding for safety training and equipment went to 123 public schools, according to the office of state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Lock Haven. More than 180 schools applied for grants.
“Bald Eagle won the maximum funding available under the program,” Hanna said in a news release. “I applaud the effort to ensure that we are sending our kids to safe and secure places to learn and grow.”
BEA’s camera system comes on the heels of other safety measures adopted this year. The School Gate Guardian System requires arriving visitors to present a valid driver’s license or other state-issued identification for scanning.
All of the district’s schools also have 3M Safety and Security Window Film placed on the inside of glass doors and windows near entrances. The film prevents the panes from shattering, creating stronger barriers.
“So we’re really focusing on safety,” Hoover said. “(The camera system) was just an added opportunity to apply for funds to make our schools more secure.”