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May 20, 2016

Budget Update - District Security

The top priority of Kennewick School District is the safety of students and staff.  Frequently, we see news of horrific incidents occurring at school districts across the nation, endangering the safety of students and staff.  Tragic events in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and Marysville High School in 2014, caused many districts to evaluate and upgrade their security and surveillance systems. 

Beginning in 2013, the Kennewick School District did a thorough review of our safety and security systems.  We determined that there were several additional safety and security concepts that we wanted to implement.  Since that time, we have implemented a standard package of safety and security systems in all of our schools and buses that are noted below.

Surveillance Cameras:

A project started in 2013 and completed this year, was the addition of security cameras to all elementary buildings. Cameras provide views of playgrounds and building entrances.  A typical elementary school has 12 to 14 cameras that provide multiple campus views from each camera location.   Principals report to us that the camera system has improved accountability as they are able to retrieve archived video to resolve situations that occur when adults were not able to witness an incident first hand.

The newer cameras are digital and provide improved reception, wireless access, more functionality, and better integration with the district building access control system. The cameras are tied into a district-wide system through our IT network, allowing remote access for real time viewing or retrieval of archived footage.  

Cameras continue to be upgraded from older analog devices to digital cameras at middle and high schools, with the priority of replacing key perimeter area cameras. The total cost invested to upgrade district surveillance cameras since 2013 is close to $600K.  Contract work to purchase and install one camera at a new location can be as high as $3,000. 

Building Access:

Another project started in 2013 was to upgrade the district building electronic access entry system to an integrated district-wide web based access control system that can store building access data.  The new system integrates security functions, including security cameras, into a system that can be remotely managed. The system provides the ability to automatically lock and unlock doors on a timed schedule or an event basis.   The system also allowed for the district staff ID card system to be upgraded.    

All the elementary and middle schools have been upgraded to the new system.  The high schools will be upgraded over the next two years. The total cost invested in building access system upgrades since 2013 is over $500K.  

Security Personnel:

The district funds an 8.0 hour security position at each middle school and two 8.0 hour positions at each high school at a total cost of $500K per school year. The district also contracts with the City of Kennewick for one police officer/security resources officer (SRO) at each high school. An SRO is stationed at a high school campus throughout the day for added security and to handle situations requiring police involvement. The contract with the city costs $190K per year.

Cameras on Buses:

Another project that the district has phased in over the past three years and completed last summer was the addition of a four camera system to all of our buses.  Every bus now has a camera that views the doorway into the bus, a camera in the front looking back, a camera in the middle looking both directions, and a camera in the rear looking forward.  Again, the camera systems have been invaluable in resolving situations that occur on buses. Total cost to upgrade bus cameras over the past three years is close to $150K.  Our newer buses come equipped with cameras.

The District is committed to the safety and security of our students and staff.  We will continue to invest resources to improve the security of our staff and buildings.

Vic Roberts
Director of Business Operations

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