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Extra cameras considered for Plum High School

| Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009

The Plum school board wants to beef up camera surveillance at the high school.

The board voted 8-1 last week to advertise for bids for the cameras, with member Linda Eazor dissenting.

Eazor questioned the need for eight more cameras that would bring the total number at the high school to 32.

"When I look at the disciplinary reports on our students, I don't think they warrant this kind of 'gotcha technology,' " Eazor said. "I am struggling with that — to rationalize the 'God forbid' reasoning. I'm not a fan of spending $4,000 on cameras."

Eazor said she would rather see the district spend $4,000 on "educating students on the legal consequences of sexting."

High School Principal Ryan Kociela said the need for additional cameras was determined after he, school resource Officer Mark Kost, who is a Plum police officer, and Jeff Wolfe, the director of student activities and the assistant athletic director walked through the high school and found areas not covered by the district's current camera system.

Kociela said four of the additional cameras would be placed on the ground floor near the fitness center and print shop. Also, one would be installed at the auditorium entrance, adding a second camera at that location; adding a third in the cafeteria, in the food-line area of the kitchen and on the loading dock.

Kociela added that security cameras are not the primary form of student management, but they "help govern student behavior in the hallways."

Eazor didn't find much support among other school board members for her view of the cameras.

The only other concern was with finances.

Board member Dawn Caruso isn't happy that the possible expenditure is not in the budget.

"I am in support of being proactive," Caruso said. "But I am concerned about it being unbudgeted. No state budget has been passed, so we don't know how much we will get from the state."

Board member Kevin Dowdell who supported advertising for more cameras, said the system frees up teachers for educational activities.

"It's more effective if teachers are preparing for their next class rather than monitoring the hallways," Dowdell said.

Eazor said the district should not limit its concentration of cameras to the high school.

"Why aren't they (cameras) in the other schools?" Eazor asked. "The incidents we're trying to prevent don't just happen at the high school.

When is it enough in feeling safe• There has to be a balance."

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