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School board to focus on security cameras

Staff recommends three-phase proposal for summer installation
By: Andrew Westrope, Staff Writer
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The Auburn Union School District Board of Trustees is expected to approve the purchase of school security cameras at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The board has had three weeks to review proposals from five security companies since one of them raised concerns about the staff’s recommendation, persuading the board to table a final decision at its previous meeting.

A facilities committee consisting of Maintenance and Operations Supervisor Stan Brandl and representatives from the employees association, teachers and administration has since reviewed the proposals at the request of the board. Board President Daniel Berlant said the committee stood by district staff’s original recommendation to go with Power Protection Plus, and the board will choose a proposal on Wednesday.

“This time each of the board members has had more opportunities to review all of the proposals and be able to make the best decision that’s effective but also cost-efficient,” he said. “This time, it did go to the facilities committee, and they still felt that (Power Protection Plus) was the best option.”

District administration began exploring surveillance options in 2012 after a rash of vandalism at E.V. Cain and Rock Creek schools over the summer. Cameras will also be installed in Auburn Elementary, Skyridge and Alta Vista.

Preliminary project specifications from Power Protection Plus recommend installing four 1.3-megapixel cameras around all five school campuses in three phases – a one-time expense of $24,000.

The first phase would station cameras at E.V. Cain Charter Middle School and Rock Creek Elementary School by June 30, in addition to completing all necessary staff training. The $9,600 bill for this work would be covered by $3,600 from E.V. Cain, $3,600 from the unrestricted general fund and $2,400 from food service, because that department would be a focal point of the new security.

Phase two would do the same for Auburn Elementary and Skyridge Elementary in July, the $9,600 bill paid by $2,400 from food service and $7,200 from the unrestricted general fund.

The final phase would install cameras at Alta Vista Community Charter School at a cost of $4,800, with the dates and funding split to be decided by budget constraints.

Once installed, the system would use photographic text messages to notify Brandl and other administrators whenever cameras registered motion in designated zones. Brandl or others would then decide if and how to respond.

Members of staff chose this system over others from Yuba Safe & Lock, Siemens, Bay Alarm and Protection 1, though representatives from Protection 1 told board members last month that the staff’s recommendation depended upon too few cameras and unreliable monitors.

On Tuesday, Brandl said the committee still favored the Power Protection Plus system for three reasons: its resolution could provide positive identification, it was modestly priced but could expand with more cameras if needed, and it came with no added monthly or annual expenses associated with maintenance or contracted monitoring.

“We have problematic areas at each school, and that wouldn’t change, but what we want to do is address the areas of concern where we’re having vandalism,” he said. “If the problem arises where we’re having additional trouble in other areas of a campus, we have the ability to expand the system and add to it. It’s nice that it gives us coverage, and then we can expand on this coverage if we need it.”