Security deserves a serious look

Island living is no periapt of proof against knuckleheads, no elixir against idiocy. For all our collective faith in Bainbridge “otherness,” most of the maladies of the outside world do manage to breach our defenses at one time or another.

So there is no particular surprise at having to report recent vandalism and theft on local school grounds, acts for which three students were brought to heel over the weekend. Stolen keys gave the youngsters access to the Commodore Center and nearby buildings on consecutive nights; their handiwork included theft, the discharge of fire extinguishers, the dumping of milk and food items on the floor, and racist messages scrawled on blackboards. While we’re

not going to take a single egregious incident and blow

it completely out of scale and proportion (someone might

mistake us for a blog), the episode does raise questions that we’ve considered in this space several times in recent years regarding security on the school grounds.

Two years ago, spray-paint-wielding vandals defaced the school building facades and damaged the masonry, while last spring, unidentified visigoths cut down a dozen lovely trees that ringed the campus courtyard. The perpetrators never were caught, but the latter incident did prompt the district administration to install a system of security monitors to capture nighttime activity on the grounds. We hadn’t heard much about the issue since then, so we checked in with Superintendent Ken Crawford this week. Yes, four security cameras were installed outside the high school; no, they aren’t turned on all the time, only intermittently on a “test basis”; and no, school officials never did get around to adopting formal policies for the security system’s use.

It seems there’s even some disagreement over who in the district should have purview over such policies. And school officials have appeared to shy away from issues that might smack of controversy until they could get the construction bond and tech levy passed. (You could hear a collective

drawing of breath in January when a teacher was arrested for possessing child pornography, as if someone might blame the school board and vote “no” on computers.) With the funding measures safely passed and a huge amount of money about to be spent upgrading school campuses, it would seem time to give more thought to security issues district-wide to protect the taxpayers’ investment and the students themselves.

Crawford identifies fencing and outdoor lighting as two areas that need to be addressed, while a keyless, electronic entry system may be rolled out at one school as a pilot program. More outdoor cameras to monitor comings and goings after school don’t seem unreasonable, notwithstanding the objections of a few students and parents.

Not that any security system is going to be absolute proof against knuckleheads. But when students plead, “Don’t you trust us?”, let’s all be honest for a change: Some of you, no.

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