Tri-City Ledger -

By Gretchen McPherson
Ledger Staff 

School gets system-wide upgrade


June 20, 2019

At the meeting of the Escambia County (Ala.) Board of Education on Thursday, June 13, the board heard a report from on the installation of the video surveillance systems in a system-wide initiative by Technology Coordinator Jamie Burkett.

“We're upgrading all of our camera systems,” said Burkett. “We're doing to in phases. We've just gotten the funding, so now we have the ability to do both phases, a system-wide upgrade.”

Burkett said the upgrade includes a camera in every classroom, in school hallways and outside all of the schools.

“It's a centrally managed system that can be accessed with a phone or computer. Now someone can look at any camera in the district with a single log in, making it easy to get to in case of emergency.”

He said principals will have access from their home or when they are away to see what is going on real time at the school.

The funds for the upgrade were provided from a grant by the state and can be used to fund various things.

“One was safety and security,” said Burkett. “Our school board has been extremely focused on trying to find money for safety and security for several years. When grant became available, they wanted to use it on that.”

The first grant was $226,000, which got phase 1 started. Then the state released some more funds, around $650,000, which was enough to finish phase 2.

“It will allow things we have never been able to do,” said Burkett. “There are analytics involved with these cameras. There is some unreal stuff you can do. The nicest thing is that all of our cameras will be installed all at the same time, which makes them the same age, same system, same warrantee. Before this upgrade we had different types with different names, installed at different times. Now the will all the same, under one warrantee across the board.”

He noted that the system will be easier to train people on and maintain.

“It's a peace of mind that we hope we never have to use, but when we do need it, it's nice to know we have the capability. It's there, serving as both a discipline and vandalism deterrent. It adds a layer of security for every student and give parents peace of mind.

Superintendent John Knott is focused on having the system installed and functioning by the start of school, but if not then, by Christmas.

He said that it is one central system, with district personnel who can every school, at least one at each school, fully trained and familiar with how to use it. Superintendent Knott will have access of the whole district and whoever he assigns at the district level will have access to it. Burkett said SRO officers and any other law enforcement officers he sees fit. Still working on process on how they will integrate with law enforcement.

In other business, the school board:

-approved of FY2019 Budget Amendment #1;

-approved for Flomaton High School to host a field trip to Williamsburg, NYC, and Philadelphia March 20 through March 26, 2020 as an enrichment trip available for 11th and 12th grade students. Criteria, cost and guidelines for participation in this trip will be established and communicated to students and parents;

-approved to begin the 4% state-mandated pay raise with the employees' contract year;

-approved to extend the beverage bid awarded to Trident Beverage for one year, from August 1, 2019 through July 31, 2020;

-approved to extend the milk products bid awarded to Borden Dairy of Alabama for one year, from August 1, 2019 through July 31, 2020.


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