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School security plan cut short

Monitoring may be done outside the administration building instead.

The cameras will not be rolling, at least not for now.

Four security cameras purchased to monitor for vandalism on the Bainbridge High School campus may be used to view the district administration building instead.

Bowing to opposition from the BHS site council, Superintendent of Schools Ken Crawford has rescinded his proposal for security cameras.

“But I do have pragmatic concerns about the vandalism,” he said, “especially after school activities, when no one is here.”

On Crawford’s initiative, cameras and a computer on which images are recorded were purchased earlier this year for $8,000. The system was to monitor activity in the west parking lot and in the “wagon wheel” central courtyard, both sites of previous vandalism.

The cameras were to be installed last month. But parents and staff members on the BHS Site Council objected, citing the “negative impact on the school climate,” according to a district memorandum outlining their concerns.

Some said they did not support a security camera program until other strategies for fighting graffiti and other vandalism had been proven unsuccessful. Others objected to the cost of the system, or said that vandalism was not a significant problem.

Crawford disagrees, saying in a Dec. 5 memo to the school board, that the ongoing graffiti problem “exceeds any high school with which I have had previous experience,” and isn’t taken seriously enough by the Bainbridge school community.

Ongoing vandalism has included broken windows, lawns being driven across by vehicles, grafittied walls and vandalism of cars in the high school’s west parking lot. A single incident of grafitti vandalism on the south wall of the 300 Building last spring cost the district $10,000.

“The damage done in 2002-2003 by vandals at BHS cost the district in excess of $60,000 – the equivalent of one teaching position,” Crawford said.

He also took issue with the idea that it is a point of pride that Bainbridge High School is among the few high schools without a security monitor system.

The school board was unable to reach consensus on the issue.

Students and parents suggested alternative ways to address the problem, including after-hours patrols by Bainbridge Police or a comprehensive look at safety and security issues on the high school campus by an outside expert.

The security system already purchased will be deployed around the administration building instead of the high school.

“Hopefully this has opened a dialogue that will give rise to other strategies to address these very real issues,” Crawford said.

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