LANCASTER — Some Garrard County schools soon will have additional ocular power monitoring corridors and campuses.
Garrard County Board of Education approved funds Tuesday for the district to install a total of 40 security cameras in Lancaster Elementary School, Garrard County Educational Center and Garrard Middle School.
District and individual school budgets will fund half of the $57,000 project, while a Community Oriented Policing Services grant secured through the Garrard County Sheriff’s Office pays the rest, said Chris Lang, district technology coordinator.
“It just gives an extra set of eyes that has perfect memory, and you can look back and say, ‘OK, that’s exactly what happened,’” he said. “That way it doesn’t become a he-said, she-said situation.”
Lang said the new Garrard County High School already has benefited from 42 security cameras installed when it opened in 2010. The motion-activated cameras capture activity in hallways and outside the school 24 hours a day. As a result, students have become less likely to engage in negative behavior from bullying to littering, he said.
However, the cameras are not in every classroom or any private space that may cause students to feel intimidated, he said.
“Having them there just makes people pause and think, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t do this,’” Lang said.
After witnessing the cameras’ impact at GCHS, the district began an initiative to place them in the education center and middle school, he said.
Lancaster Elementary joined the project when officials learned the school planned to use additional school council funds to purchase a less advanced camera system for itself, Principal Tracie Bottoms said.
She said the design of the school — which does not require visitors to enter through the office and uses a side door as the main entry — poses difficulty for those trying to watch over the building.
“There is a lot of montoring issues that we've had in the past,” she said. “We’ve never had it happen, but a child could walk out those doors.”
Bottoms said the 16-camera system will allow employees to better ensure student safety and hopefully deter after-hours passersby from visiting the school playground.
“Our playground is used a lot, but it's also abused a lot,” she said.
The district’s other two elementary schools, Camp Dick Robinson and Paint Lick, likely will receive cameras when the district can secure another COPS grant, Lang said.
The security system soon to be installed at LES, GMS and GCEC is more advanced than the one at the high school and thus requires fewer cameras, he said. The campus of those buildings also are smaller, further explaining why they require 40 cameras total, while the high school needs 42.
Lang said the cameras should be installed before Christmas break.