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updated: 3/5/2013 1:58 PM

District 203 adding surveillance cameras to junior highs

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Naperville Unit District 203 administrators, having deemed their new high school surveillance system a success, are ready to begin testing the same equipment in junior highs.

The first phase of the program added about 40 cameras to Naperville North High School, bringing the total in each of the district's two high schools to 64. The cameras are in common areas such as lobbies, hallways, cafeterias and stairways, and are primarily used to review what happened after an incident occurs.

But new software included at the high schools this year allows specific administrators the ability to monitor live feeds on any of the cameras from their mobile devices or computer, whether they are in school, at home or on vacation.

Chris Kunzer, who manages telecommunications for District 203, said the great response from high school administrators led to a test program being initiated at Lincoln Junior High.

"The feedback has been very positive and (administrators) found them to be very useful and productive," Kunzer said.

In the coming year, the district estimates it will spend an additional $136,000 to outfit all five of its junior highs with roughly 10 cameras each. Chief Information Officer Roger Brunelle said an ongoing program at Lincoln Junior High has shown 10 cameras likely will be sufficient to cover each school.

"We are currently in the process of conducting a pilot at Lincoln Junior High. We'll have those cameras installed by the end of the month," Brunelle said. "What we're piloting here is not the technology. We know the technology works. (We're piloting) the training, the number of cameras for a typical junior high and there are some new tweaks to the technology that we want to test before full junior high implementation."

Brunelle said he also put together a proposed plan that could put as many as seven cameras at each of the district's elementary schools in the near future. at a cost of about $282,000.

"There are no firm plans to do that now, but if that was to be talked about, we would figure that would be the next year after the junior highs (2014-2015)," Brunelle said. "It could be accelerated if the board decided to go that direction."

Board member Terry Fielden complimented the work the cameras have already done and called the expense "a small price to pay."

"I think it's a great idea and the cameras are certainly very clear," he said. "It's a good deal and a good level of tracking. It's a small price to pay. I know it's a lot of money but at least it gives the ability to better monitor the buildings, especially the entrances."

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