While earlier today St. Joseph’s high school was locked down due to a gun threat, the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) is hoping to receive funding to install security cameras and controlled access devices throughout remaining elementary schools.
Last December, the Ministry of Education announced a $10 million fun for front door locks, entry buzzers and security cameras in Ontario’s schools in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.
While fortunately the student at St. Joseph’s who threatened to return to school with a gun the day after his suspension did not, it is clear that school security is of the utmost importance.
Scott Scantlebury is the Public Relations Officer for the GECDSB and he explained that while the installation of security cameras and controlled access devices would left up to a “matter of school choice”, the plan would be for schools to apply for the money once the fund is available.
Schools would be able to apply for both “security camera at the door so that someone in the office can see who is at the door, and secondary to that, would be a magnetic lock system so that a person would get buzzed in, and of course that would have to include an intercom as well.” stated Scantlebury.
Currently there are only 9 elementary across the board which have both security cameras and controlled access devices while at the remaining schools the state of controlled access is “limited to signage that says ‘all visitors should report to the office’.”
Scantlebury estimates that the security measures would cost roughly $2000-$3000 per school, and with a remaining 45-50 schools which would need to be outfitted with the devices, the total cost would be roughly $150,000 “for alterations which need to be made to front doors and wiring.”
A former supervisor of 6 years who worked for the company which did security for the GECDSB who wished to remain unnamed explained that security cameras are typically monitored by the vice principal.
While most of the security footage is recorded and kept in a buffer for a predetermined amount of time, others are not recorded and are only monitored when the vice principal is around.
“The only security concern students face is unauthorized entrants who are strangers to the school, or are a parent of a student who could bring a hostile temperament to the school stemming from a family conflict like divorce,” explained the unnamed former supervisor, adding that ” Both [cases] are rare.”
“Our record demonstrates that our schools are safe and secure,” commented Scantlebury, adding “the decision for increased security is based on the desire of that school community, and it’s based on their circumstances [if front door is not visible to gauge who is entering].”
“Based on our record, I think you can quite safely say that schools are secure and safe within Windsor and Essex County.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.