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Allison recommends spending $3 million to improve security at Wichita schools

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, May 2, 2013, at 7:44 p.m.

Wichita superintendent John Allison wants to beef up school security by installing new high-definition cameras, computers, keyless-entry doors, a revamped dispatch center and more.

The estimated price tag: about $3 million.

The Wichita school board on Monday will consider a proposal to contract with Aventura Technologies Inc. to install and launch a new centralized surveillance system that would monitor more than 100 schools and other sites.

District officials weren’t immediately available to comment on the proposal.

A report outlining the plan says the district’s current surveillance system of video cameras and digital video receivers, implemented through a grant nine years ago, is “inadequate and error-prone due to malfunctioning equipment and the area of coverage.”

If there is an incident such as a break-in at a school, security officers are dispatched to the site to review video and make a recording to DVD after the fact.

“The way we currently detect defective equipment and systems failure is when the schools need to access the video … and then it is too late,” the report says.

According to the proposal, Wichita school buildings use various methods to connect to district security, including dial-up modems and independent network connections.

New equipment and a centralized network “would reduce complexity, increase reliability and performance, and give security staff remote visibility to all systems,” the report says.

Allison has recommended that board members authorize up to $3 million from the district’s general fund to buy hardware, software and services from New York-based Aventura Technologies. The company would design and install a centralized surveillance system.

For more than two years, Allison and other district officials have been re-evaluating school security measures and researching upgrades to the system.

Board members have approved building controlled-access entryways at many schools as part of bond issue improvements, even though most weren’t part of the initial bond issue plan approved by voters in 2008.

After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December, some Wichita schools implemented new safety measures, such as locking exterior doors other than the main entrance. District officials also reminded schools to be vigilant about carrying out security measures already in place, such as requiring visitors to check in.

To develop the new plan, district officials surveyed and visited schools and consulted principals, school resource officers, technology specialists, electricians and others.

The plan calls for $2.7 million in cameras, access controls and alarm upgrades at schools and another $300,000 to upgrade the district’s central security and dispatch office.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SuzanneTobias.

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