August 17. 2018 10:27PM

Purchase of 45 exterior cameras proposed for 4 Bedford schools

Union Leader Correspondent

Interim superintendent Mike Fournier is suggesting 10 cameras for Riddle Brook Elementary, 12 for Peter Woodbury Elementary (the school shown above), 14 for Memorial Elementary and nine for McKelvie Intermediate. (Kimberly Houghton/Union Leader Correspondent file photo)

BEDFORD — School officials are reviewing a proposal to install exterior cameras at four local schools.

Although exterior security cameras are already in place at Bedford High School and the adjoining Ross A. Lurgio Middle School, there are currently no exterior cameras at the three elementary schools and McKelvie Intermediate School.

Last month, the New Hampshire Department of Education notified school administrators that the Bedford School District’s application for a grant from the Public School Infrastructure Fund was approved to cover a significant portion of the camera costs.

“Your award reflects 80 percent of the project costs, not to exceed $80,394,” Frank Edelblut, commissioner of education, wrote in a letter to the district. “… Your dedication to the health and safety of New Hampshire’s students and staff is appreciated.”

This week, interim superintendent Mike Fournier recommended that the school board use the grant to purchase a total of 45 cameras for four Bedford schools.

He is suggesting that 10 cameras be installed outside of Riddle Brook Elementary, 12 be placed outside of Peter Woodbury Elementary, 14 be stationed outside of Memorial Elementary and nine be used outside of McKelvie Intermediate School.

The total cost of the project, including installation, is estimated at about $85,049. Since the state will pay 80 percent of the price tag, Fournier said the school district would receive about $68,039 for the project, and Bedford would contribute about $17,009.

If supported by the school board, there would then be exterior security cameras on all of Bedford’s public schools. The award, however, must be claimed by April 1, meaning the project should be completed by that time.

Fournier has already discussed the matter with the network administrator to determine the best placement for the proposed cameras, which would create full visibility outside of the schools.

There are times when Fournier, as the former principal at McKelvie, said exterior cameras would have been helpful to investigate incidents on school property that may have occurred during off-school hours on weeknights or weekends.

The school board is expected to vote on Fournier’s proposal in the coming weeks.

Earlier this year, after hearing concerns from some school officials, former Superintendent Chip McGee held off on a proposal to install temporary interior cameras at the high school.

Although McGee and Principal Bill Hagen previously approached the school board recommending that seven interior cameras be temporarily installed at the high school, in part because of several incidents of graffiti being reported there, two board members voiced in opposition.