When the Stoughton Area School District finishes its project to increase surveillance inside district schools this spring, 216 new cameras will be up and rolling.
That was great news to school board members, who Monday night heard from district director of technology Paul Vande Hei that the project is nearly completed, with 187 cameras in operation, a few dozen cameras left to install and some staff training left to complete.
When the additional 29 cameras are installed next month, the district will have “100 percent coverage of the internal footprint” of all five district schools, he said.
The project, which has been planned for more than three years, got a boost last year from a $109,285 state safety grant to install surveillance cameras in all five district schools, as well as shatter-resistant glass. Work started to install the cameras and glass last July and mostly wrapped up last month with a training session for administrators who will use the camera system.
In anticipation of the dozens of new cameras around the inside of schools, board members amended their policies on cameras. Now, a request to see video must be made within seven days, and no footage, unless involved in a complaint, will be kept beyond 14 days. Police will not be involved in viewing footage unless called in by the district.
Except in “extraordinary circumstances” and with the written authorization of the district administrator, the surveillance equipment would not be used in areas where people have a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” such as restrooms, locker rooms, offices, classrooms or meeting rooms during instructional time, according to the amended policy.
Vande Hei said district officials will talk with Stoughton police about how to work with them on the new cameras.
“Who do we give access to, and what are the policies around that?” he said. “We will have those discussions.”
Vande Hei said increasing external camera coverage of schools would also be a topic of conversation in coming months.
“We do have some cameras on the outside of out buildings, but there are many blind spots. so we’ll be working with (contractors) to address those needs as well,” he said.
Several board members thanked Vande Hei and his team for their work in the past few years.
“It’s been what, at least three years coming?” said Joe Freye. “It feels a lot better having the cameras.”