Administrators at schools across Hillsborough County are making changes to security policies that include installing surveillance cameras on campuses.
Parents and school officials are bringing their attention toward ways to make schools safer and determining how to prevent disastrous situations, like the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary, from happening in the future.
“Our superintendent and our school board members are addressing the concerns of security on campus. And the incident at Sandy Hook is something that certainly drew our attention to that, not that it wasn’t already there,” said principal Brenda Grasso.
Here at school, security policies such as always having a deputy present on campus and an anonymous tip service where students can report a crime without having their identity known have always existed.
Assistant principal Eddie Henderson also meets at least four times a school year with a group of staff members as part of a school security committee. This group has been in place since the opening of the school.
Even routine procedures like having a safety drill every month makes students aware of how to behave appropriately on campus and feel more protected at school. Installing security cameras on campus will add to these existing security measures.
“It’s not about infringing upon students’ rights to be on the campus and move freely from one place to another, it’s about making sure the perimeter is secure,” said Grasso.
Simple procedures such as locking the outside gates during school hours and fencing off different places of the school that aren’t completely fenced off are also ideas that have been suggested in order to create a safer school atmosphere.
About a year ago, Grasso met with the Council of Principals with 27 other high school principals and about half a dozen Tech-Career principals to discuss ideas on where to integrate the cameras into the school, when they will be placed, and how this plan has worked in other schools.
The idea of surveillance cameras came forth during this meeting, and it was brought up that security cameras would give the school an opportunity to have a better sense of safety on campus.
Schools in Hillsborough County like Sickles High School contains surveillance cameras on campus that help monitor the school’s daily activity while also giving the community a feeling of protection of their students.
The ultimate motivation for having security cameras installed is that Steinbrenner has such an open campus and it is difficult to monitor all areas of the campus at once with only administration walking around and checking the perimeters.
Surveillance cameras on campus would not affect students’ right to learn and students would not be very aware of this security change.
Questions that originally came up when this idea was suggested were what sources would fund the cameras, when they would be installed, and how they would affect the daily schedule of the students on campus.
As of right now, the funding for the cameras would come from the district’s budget.
In order for the project to be financially feasible cameras would be installed in places where students are frequently present.
Places would include the courtyard, the lunchroom, and various positions in the hallways.
When addressing the issue if security cameras really add to the protection of the school, Grasso went over research and took a look at the use of security cameras at other schools and the measure of their effectiveness.
Teachers were made aware of these security plans during a faculty meeting on Feb. 12. No oppositions from faculty or administration were made when the proposal for the cameras were explained.
Plans to install the cameras on campus are tentative as of right now and will receive a set date when funds and more information arrives.
Sam Bequer / News Editor