The St. Joseph School District is prioritizing security cameras going into 2020.

Back in September, district officials sent out requests for proposals and received various bids for new cameras and camera systems to replace more outdated models.

High schools were the focus for this first round, and the new cameras will utilize Salient Software, which has features that would allow administrators to access camera footage from their phones.

“But when the bids came back the first time, there were a couple of issues,” Susan Anderson, the district’s coordinator of technology and data management, said. “First of all, we had asked for a particular brand of camera or similar. And then some of the bids that came back for cameras were for cameras that we didn’t feel were a very good match for what we were wanting. Plus, the bids did come back a little bit high.”

Responses ranged between $812,000 and $1.87 million. According to comments made by Gabe Edgar, the assistant superintendent of business and operations, in a finance committee meeting back in October, $740,000 had been set aside for those technology upgrades.

Anderson said labor costs seemed to be driving the prices up. As such, the requests for proposal were reworked and sent out, this time with a new timeline.

“And even if you know that sometime in the future, say you may be erecting a new building, closing one down, whatever the facility study ends up landing on, you can’t wait that long to make sure the kids that you have in buildings currently are safe,” she said. “And you want to do all that you can to keep them safe now.

“But yes, we would be able to take the cameras from any one building and move them to another, though I don’t want to say necessarily one-for-one, because part of what the vendors do, they come in and they do a walkthrough of the buildings and they look at every hallway, every corner that might have a blind spot, and they select cameras based on that specific building,” she said. “So there may be a few cameras that wouldn’t necessarily be able to be used in a different building. But by and large, the majority of them would be.”

Anderson added that the hope is to have the new cameras installed by the end of June.

Elementary schools would be the focus following high-school upgrades, and Edgar commented that the overall cost for those should be significantly cheaper.

While the district has not reached out to the winning bidder just yet, the decision should be voted on during a Board of Education meeting later this month.

“Security is a pretty important thing when it comes to schools these days. Unfortunately, we have to think about that even more than they ever did in the past,” Anderson said. “So they’re wanting to make sure that they get on a schedule to get those (cameras) replaced throughout the district.”

Daniel Cobb can be reached

at daniel.cobb@newspressnow.com.

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