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Schools invested in campus security measures

When Gov. Doug Ducey delivered his State of the State speech on Monday, one goal he mentioned — school safety — was met with approval by two Lake Havasu City school superintendents.

“We’ve been waiting for direction from the state. Maybe this time we’ll get it,” said Sandy Breece, superintendent of Telesis Preparatory Academy. She was referring to the same plan that failed to get enough legislators’ votes in 2018.

Ducey said he plans to reintroduce his Safe Arizona Schools Plan with more money included for police officers in schools. Specifically, he said his budget proposal will have “enough dollars to put a cop on every campus that needs one.”

“We know when a police officer is around, it makes things safer,” Ducey said.

Diana Asseier, superintendent for the Lake Havasu Unified School District, said state funding for security personnel would be a plus, although Lake Havasu High School already has one resource officer and four unarmed security officers. All five positions are full-time.

Breece said Telesis has had a safety officer on its campus since 2009, and increased that number to two officers 2017.

“We are a closed campus, which means people can’t just come and go. We have a fence all the way around. Our Safety and Emergency Response Team meets regularly to practice and to review our plans for soft and hard lockdowns,” she said.

Any funding from the state would be welcome that would help offset the costs of having safety officers, Breece added.

As with Telesis, improvements to its safety plans and policies is ongoing at the Lake Havasu Unified School District. One sizable project will vastly expand the video surveillance systems at all eight school campuses plus the administration complex. The measure was expected to be approved by the district’s governing board at Tuesday evening’s monthly board meeting.

“We’ve been really fortunate that our community supports it,” Asseier said of the district’s efforts to upgrade security features at its schools. The new video surveillance system will be paid for with money from 2016’s $49 million bond that was earmarked for capital improvements.

There are two major defining features of the new system versus the old. First is connectivity. The new system has one platform to operate and connect all nine sites. Currently, the video systems at each school are independent of each other. They range in functionality from complete failure to operating poorly.

“Right now, we don’t have a unified system,” said Jaime Festa-Daigle, the district’s personnel and technology director. “Every system at every school was put in at a different time using different funds.”

Another defining feature is the sheer number of cameras. Besides offering a wider field of view, there are a lot more of them. The proposal calls for 370 new cameras, 104 of which will be installed at the high school alone.

At the district’s governing board work session Jan. 8, Asseier pointed out another advantage of the upgraded video system.

“In the event of an assault, the police department would have immediate access to the cameras,” she said.

During the same work session discussion, board member John Masden seemed to address privacy concerns and pointed out that the new cameras’ sole purpose is not to “catch the bad guys” – though they can come in handy for that function.

“Camera systems are there as silent observers for the protection of everyone within sight of the cameras,” he said. There are valuable things in the buildings that we must protect. We have 5,400-and-some kids plus our staff that we must protect.”

The bid of $467,311 for the new surveillance system was submitted by IPVision LLC, which is based in Phoenix.



by Pam Ashley, Today's News-Herald
Jan 16, 2019

School Supplies

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