The Poway Unified School District approved a contract Tuesday to install and upgrade security cameras at its schools, which it says will help cut down on school threats.
School shootings across the nation like at Sandy Hook in Connecticut and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Florida, and incidents within the district like a threat-related arrest at Westview High School in February, have the district concerned for its students’ safety.
The district board voted Tuesday night to approve a $482,000 contract to upgrade and add cameras to 12 high schools and middle schools that already have them.
The first phase of the project, which includes district headquarters, is expected to be completed by the start of next school year.
A later second phase, which has yet to be bid on, will include cameras for schools that don't already have them.
“It's definitely a step forward,” Westview High junior Paige Riza said. “Hopefully more steps will be made to make everyone safer.”
The cameras are part of a full-scale security assessment the district is doing for all its schools, prompted by a district-wide forum after the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“I don’t think it will make a difference because when we buy cameras is there going to be someone watching 24/7?" Del Norte High School freshman Diego Krenz asked.
The footage will be recorded but not monitored 24-7, but the district says even having recorded footage will help school officials keep better watch, especially at schools like Rancho Bernardo High School where older cameras weren't able to clearly capture the vandal who spray-painted death threats on the wall.
“People who have bad ideas in their mind, whether drugs, vandalism or on a larger-scale life or death situation, they’ll think ‘Maybe I’ll get caught. I don’t want to do this,’” Riza said.
The district is trying a comprehensive approach to solving the issue of gun violence, Communications Director Christine Paik said. In addition to the cameras, the district is planning more emotional support programs, and is starting a Safety Planning Committee that parents can sign up for on the district's website.