Sixteen surveillance cameras will be installed at Anderson Middle School within the next few weeks.
"The project is just getting under way," said Tony Baldwin, director of Technology Services for Anderson Union High School District, which oversees technology operations at several local school districts through a partnership called the South County Consortium.
Silent warning - Jason Eatmon of Development Group, Inc. installs a new digital clock at Anderson Middle
School. The clocks have a reader board that will allow school administrators to send silent messages to students.
When finished, the project will have approximately 60 percent of the school grounds under observation.
"The old system was one camera overlooking a playground," admitted Baldwin. "We should be at 21 (cameras) by the end of this project."
All of the safety and communication enhancements will be state-of-the art and will run off of the school's computer network, not the old, independently-operated control systems.
"In the old days, we had one system for telephones, one system for paging, one system for the bells, one system for the cameras," stated Joshua Carlson, a network technician for the district.
Now all these systems will be digitally combined. And, even more importantly, "Our new system will have E-911," Baldwin said.
Enhanced-911 will allow local emergency crews to pinpoint a caller's exact location.
"Prior to this point," stated Baldwin, "dispatchers would only see the main address of the school. Once the new security system is in place, they will see the exact room number that the caller is in. This could be critical if someone is working after hours and is injured and cannot speak (to) complete the call. The responders will know exactly where the person called from."
The local police department will also have access to the surveillance cameras.
"If something happens on or near the school," said Baldwin, "Anderson Police Department can view our cameras to help identify the problem."
The principal and his or her assistant will monitor the camera images, although the district's superintendent, maintenance director and Information Technology director will each have access, too.
The modernization project is slated for completion by mid-April.