LA QUINTA, Calif. - The Coachella Valley Unified School District has set aside up to $1 million to purchase and install security cameras at each of its 21 schools. The decision came just a day before a school shooting at Arapahoe High school in Centennial, Colorado. Scenes from the shooting left some parents wondering about the well-being of their children when in class. "How did we let something like this happen?" asked Richard Trevino, the parent of a student at Mountain Vista Elementary school in Indio. "Especially when we believe that when they're in school, they're safe."
In response to violence at schools nationwide, CVUSD superintendent Dr. Darryl Adams and the board hope to provide some assurance for its parents with the cameras. The money comes from the Measure "D" bond approved by voters in 2005. "Over the years and since Sandy Hook, we think it's prudent to put a more upgraded and a better system in place," said Dr. Adams.
A system the Desert Sands Unified School District's already been using for several years. Everyday, director of security and safety services Jeff Kaye and his staff keep an eye on several cameras at nearly all of the district's schools. The cameras also record 24 hours a day. "We can monitor campuses remotely, 3 or 4 at a time, instead of having one person out there," said Kaye. "The student conduct, they behave when they know they're on camera."
Kaye says incidents of vandalism and theft have decreased since the cameras were installed. For parents at CVUSD, the new cameras will provide an added level of security and comfort. "It will help us protect and ensure that our kids stay on the premises, and if anyone does intrude onto the premises," said Trevino. "We'll be able to identify them better."
While the technology makes things easier, Kaye's quick to remind the community, it's only a small part of making our schools safer. "It happens, violence happens," said Kaye. "It's a trend we have to turn around and we have to work on turning around."
Dr. Adams said he hopes to have the cameras in place by the end of the school year, but that's a flexible date. DSUSD uses the cameras, while some of the schools at Palm Springs Unified use them.