The Finance Committee of the District 65 School Board recommended that the Board approve a new security camera system to replace the existing one which is outdated and provides insufficient coverage.

In a memo to the Finance Committee, Joe Caravello, Director of Technology for the District, said the manufacturer of the current system went out of business a few years ago, and it is difficult to repair the existing system.

He listed 10 other problems with the current system, including there are numerous blind spots which cannot be addressed with new cameras; the existing cameras have poor video quality and poor night vision capabilities; and neither the analog cameras nor their video output stream can be monitored by standard network monitoring packages.

The new camera system, he said, will  have the following capabilities:

? Thorough coverage of each building’s main entrances and front/main office areas;

? Reasonable coverage of exterior areas, including parking lots and all exterior doors;

? Coverage of interior common areas (hallways, stairwells, corridors, etc.) with additional coverage as necessary in high-volume areas (such as gymnasiums, cafeterias, etc.);

? High Definition (HD) resolution cameras with Wide Dynamic Range to handle a variety of challenging lighting conditions;

? A web-driven, single-management dashboard for all district cameras which will allow access from a variety of devices including mobile, provide controlled sharing with partner law enforcement agencies, and being capable of exporting footage in a variety of formats, with multiple levels of delegated administration and granular permissions to resources; and,

? Having a modern analytics engine, complete with audio monitoring for events like firearm discharges.

Mr. Caravello added that in an emergency situation, the District could provide the police department with access to the camera system, so they could see and hear what was happening in a school building from outside the building. He said the District could provide police with an App or a password to access the camera system to do this. He added, “Police will have access if we give them access. It’s not an ongoing thing.”

Several members of the Board asked that a Memorandum of Understanding be prepared that spelled out when police would have  access to the camera system, and when they would not.

In response to questions, Mr. Caravello said there would be no cameras in bathrooms or classrooms.

The District received three bids for the new camera system. Greatline Communications submitted “the bid that best fit our technical requirements and budget most closely,” said Mr. Caravello. The total cost over 10 years is $543, 854. 15. Two other bids were submitted with 10-year costs in the amount of $1,236,600 and $2.23 million.

Mr. Caravello said the District plans to apply for a grant that could cover part of the cost. The new camera system will be installed in three phases due to financial constraints. He said he hopes Phase I will be completed by mid-August.

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...