Plymouth schools put students' safety No. 1 with new security


Plymouth students started a new school year on Wednesday, and they probably noticed a few more cameras around their buildings.

The Plymouth Community School Corporation made major upgrades to building security over the summer.

$1.4 million was spent on security after a security consultant made recommendations following the Newtown, Conn. shooting.

The Plymouth School Board approved the spending and took out a bond that cost taxpayers about $4 for every $100,000 of home value.

Administrators say the upgrades and added security are worth it to keep students safe.

With the money, the corporation hired a Director of Safety and Security, installed more than 300 cameras across its seven schools, purchased a new check-in system for visiting guests, and built a monitoring facility for it all.

With the technological upgrades, administration is now able to watch all the schools' cameras from iPads, including the three cameras that are on every school bus.

It may seem a bit excessive, but Director of Safety and Security Jim Phillips says it benefits students and teachers.

"Whatever my department can do to take things off of [teachers] plates and allow them to stay focused on what's happening in their buildings, I think that's one of my main goals," said Phillips.

The cameras are stationed in hallways, parking lots, gymnasiums and more, and they give security a full view of what's going on.

"The cameras rotate through a series of what you would call camera tours, and it gives us an idea of who is coming and going and where our students are moving, so we can better protect them," said Phillips.

The cameras not only work to find out if someone vandalized the building or committed a hit-and-run in the parking lot, but are proactive in their prevention.

"One of the great things about cameras is not only do they record things for posterity's sake, but it provides a visual deterrent," said Phillips.

While they can see most of the school, Assistant Superintendent Dan Funston says the cameras are for the bigger picture.

"It's not necessarily there to catch kids out of class or anything like that, it's strictly for safety and security," said Funston.

Funston says the new security system will last a long time and says parents are appreciative of the lengths the school is going to ensure their children's safety.

"I think parents should feel at ease just with the understanding that [safety] is a priority for us," said Funston. "[They] really appreciate the fact that we're trying our best to keep our kids safe."

"We're putting measures in place that we feel are in the best interest of our kids, and we're going to keep on doing that," said Phillips.