The school board as part of across-the-board cuts in SPLOST-funded projects had pared about $1 million back in 2009 from an effort to install surveillance cameras in local schools. The F&T Committee at its February meeting suggested it was time to restore that funding, and the school board is to consider the matter at its meeting this evening.
“Wallace Coopwood came up with the idea that if we have the extra money, the most important place we could spend it is in safety and security,” F&T Chair Curt Johnston told the MDJ. “We certainly agreed with that.”
“We’ve been blessed not to have to deal with (a Newtown-style incident) in Cobb County, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen in Cobb County,” he said.
Added Coopwood: “Schools are just so vulnerable. It’s just the right thing to do. We say we are a first-class district and ought to put our kids’ safety and security first.”
At present there are roughly 64 security cameras in each of Cobb’s 16 public high schools. The system had aimed to install digital surveillance cameras in each of Cobb’s 67 elementaries and replace older analog cameras in the high schools. But the 2009 cuts meant the system wasn’t able to start replacing the analog models.
Deputy Superintendent for Operations Chris Ragsdale said restoring the earlier funding cut should allow the district to replace all of the cameras. Surveillance cameras also are included in the latest Ed-SPLOST approved by Cobb voters earlier this year.
“In today’s environment with everything that’s happened, surveillance and safety is everyone’s top priority in schools,” he said. “They wanted to do everything they could to get an immediate resolution.”
Considering that the funding in question is relatively minimal; and the potential “upside” of having the cameras is so potentially crucial, restoring the funding should be an easy call tonight for the school board.