EPPING — The school board has decided against spending up to $60,000 to install surveillance cameras on school grounds to deter a spike in vandalism in recent years.
Board members agree that vandalism is a problem, but suggested that a less expensive option should be explored and considered during the next school year.
“I think we can come back with perhaps a more moderate proposal,” Superintendent Barbara Munsey said at a board meeting last week.
Vandalism was a problem at the elementary school playground a few years ago and is now an issue at the high school. Munsey said items have been stolen from storage units and someone tried to take out the windows of the front doors at the high school.
Monitoring the school buildings at all times is impossible, Munsey said, adding “We can’t be there 24/7. The Epping police can’t be there 24/7.”
Peter Gilligan, the district’s technology director, said it would cost nearly $60,000 to install 50 to 60 cameras outside the 26 entrances at the elementary, middle and high school buildings and tie them into the school system’s computer network.
“The school of thought we’re going at is, if you just put a camera where someone did vandalism, they’re just going to go to the other entrance, so shame on us for putting a camera where the problem is,” Munsey said.
George Kimball, the district’s facilities supervisor, said this was the third time that some version of a surveillance system has been proposed.
Gilligan met with the board late last year to discuss a proposal after he was asked to come up with some options to address security, but at the time he was told there was no money for a security system and it would have to wait.
Board member Gregory Dodge said he didn’t see a need for so many cameras.
“I just think it’s overkill,” he said.
David Mylott, school board chairman, has long opposed the idea and said monitoring everything that happens “is not live free.”
“I was against it before and I’m against it now,” he said. “If you’re saying 50 to 60 cameras, then I’m absolutely against it.”