News

Security guards at high school

 

Officials look to add, upgrade cameras

By Austen Smith, Editor

PUBLISHED: May 1, 2008

There will be some new faces patrolling the halls of Belleville High School
throughout the remainder of the school year.

 

Two Security guards, hired through SIA Protective Services at a price tag of $4,000 each, have been at the high school for the past week as part of a pilot program and heightened effort to improve security throughout the building. School board members Monday night agreed to keep the guards for the rest of the school year. 

 

Superintendent Pete Lazaroff said in a memo it is the intention of the administration that they keep the security guards for the rest of the year, and then assess the impact and benefit. He said Monday morning, that he walked into the high school and was not stopped by one of the security guards even though he didn’t have a badge or name tag.

“That employee was let go by 9:30 a.m., and the agency sent over another guard by that afternoon,” Lazaroff said.

The security guards do not carry weapons of any kind but are equipped with radios. Lazaroff said they are easily identified with large name badges that read, “Security,” so there is no confusion for the staff or students. Some of the duties outlined for the guards are stopping students during class to check passes, monitor students’ behavior in the hallways (which entails watching hand movements, keeping an open ear to discussions amongst students), reporting suspicious activity to the proper administrators and ensuring all visitors have the appropriate passes during school hours.

High School principal Sheila Brown requested five security guards. School board members quickly rejected the request saying at this point, it is simply a pilot program and they will evaluate the benefit after the school year. The security guards will be in addition to the School Resource Officer already assigned to the high school.

Denise McDonald, a paraprofessional at North Middle School, voiced her complaints about the privatization of services that mirror job responsibilities for para’s around the district.

“You’re taking para jobs and giving them to a private company,” McDonald said.

Two years ago, five paraprofessional positions were cut in the district because of budget constraints. McDonald asked why the board has the money to pay the security guards but not the para jobs.

Lazaroff said the money is coming out of the general fund, and he indicated that contracting out for security guards for law enforcement responsibilities was a fairly common practice among districts in the state.

“I look at this as a specialized service, and that is my recommendation,” Lazaroff said.

School board member Martha Toth echoed those comments saying they need personnel trained in law enforcement.

“I just don’t see those types of duties as part of (paraprofessionals’) job,” Toth said.

McDonald shot back saying there are different types of paras throughout the district and that she has dealt with similar responsibilities as outlined in the security guards’ job description.

“Do you think that these people will care about our kids like a para who is part of this community?” McDonald asked. “Some paras have been taught how to restrain kids. It’s not always about dollars and cents.”

Toth said she didn’t agree with outsourcing the jobs either.

“But I’m tired of seeing our people getting hurt.”

In addition to the hired guards, school administration will be adding 16 new security cameras to the high school and upgrading current video taping to DVD at a total cost of $2,500. Another 16 cameras also have been requested to be installed at North Middle School and South Middle School, respectively, and the DVD upgrade.

The cost for the high school security cameras will be covered by a federal grant secured by Belleville Police Chief Gene Taylor.

Maintenance Director Brian Brice said the new cameras will be added wherever they currently don’t have coverage such as the media center and parking lot.

 

 

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