By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON – District 80 officials plan to install security cameras at the Primary Center to prevent future acts of vandalism.
The center was targeted by vandals in March who spray-painted in red on the front of the building. The graffiti covered roughly a 10- to 12-foot section of the brick walls.
Having cameras at the school will greatly enhance the overall security of the campus, said Primary Center Principal Shannon Marler.
“As principal, I am more than thrilled because of the level of safety it will provide for my students and staff,” Marler said. “There's always a need for security cameras when you're in a school system.”
Currently, the Primary Center is the only District 80 school without cameras. The facility does have an alarm system. The plan is to place six exterior and eight interior cameras at the site at a cost of roughly $15,000.
Even so, officials hope to reduce that cost by using some of the district's cameras at the Benjamin Franklin Early Childhood Center, which will not have classes next year. The district, though, will still likely have to purchase additional cameras to fully equip the Primary Center, said Assistant Superintendent Aletta Lawrence.
“We are going to try and recycle some of the equipment from Franklin,” Lawrence said.
The district's three other school buildings – Casey Middle School, the Dr. Andy Hall building and J.L. Buford Intermediate Center – all have cameras and alarm systems in place. The Andy Hall facility will be the district's new Early Childhood Center.
The two district office buildings and the kitchen/maintenance facility do not have cameras, but do have alarm systems.
Adding cameras at the Primary Center should provide a level of comfort for parents and staff, Marler said.
“Throughout the school day, students will be monitored even closer,” Marler said. “If any incidents were to occur, God forbid, we would have a record of the incidents.”
The Mt. Vernon Police Department continues to investigate the March vandalism. At this point, investigators do not have any leads, said Police Chief Chris Mendenall.
Mendenall added that installing cameras at the Primary Center should be an effective way to curb unwanted activity.
“The camera system will be a great tool,” Mendenall said.