GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Guilford County School leaders continue to push toward an updated surveillance camera system as school security remains a concern for parents.
The district has begun to work its way through $5.6 million of a bond referendum, which is, in part, allocated for school security.
As they do so, security cameras at campuses within the district continue to go dark.
“We have had a number of cases where cameras have been no use to us. Or they would’ve been, but they were inoperable,” explained Captian Brian Hall, who oversees the School Resource Office Department within the district.
His deputies monitor seven campuses within the district and have events happen that were not caught on camera due to an outdated system or them failing to be operational.
“More recently than any time before, it has become a real problem. It’s something the district is aware of and working on,” Hall said.
Faulty cameras are nothing new for Guilford County Schools.
For the past several years, Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras and others have outlined how they need to be repaired or replaced altogether.
Last year, a bond referendum passed for 2/3s of a $10 million proposal the school needed to make repairs to its two-way radio system used by first responders within the school. Instead, that 2/3s will be spent on school security, HVAC system repairs and window maintenance, according to the county manager’s office.
The topic of school security was brought up at a Sept. 16 school board meeting.
Commissioner Alan Perdue explained that he had been informed that “at Ragsdale, what was reported…as many as 60 cameras out of service. Sixteen at southern when they had an incident the other day. Several at northeast when they had multiple fights.”
In response to these claims, Commissioner Skip Alston said, “I don’t think we are being fair to the school system saying we gave them money to do certain things when we really did not give them the money. They asked us to do things as far as security.”
He also asked for an update on how much money has been spent by the district and on what.
In a response to an inquiry from FOX8 on Monday, Board Chair Deena Hayes-Greene said:
“Although a couple of members of the Board of County Commissioners continue to put forth a false narrative that Guilford County Schools is not interested in investing in school safety, a simple review of historical records reveals a different story. The Guilford County Board of Education has repeatedly and consistently requested funding for capital outlay from the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. Not one time in the past eight years has GCS received the full amount of our requests, resulting in safety and security challenges and facilities having $800 million worth of deferred maintenance which grows daily. In fact, only once during this time period has the Guilford County BOCC even reached more than 55% of the Board of Education’s capital outlay request. All of this is a matter of public record, including each Commissioner’s voting record on facilities and the GCS budget.”
A spokesperson also provided the following:
It is worth noting that security cameras generally do not prevent incidents; they are most helpful in the investigation of incidents after they have occurred. Moreover, access control points and the One Card system are more effective measures in preventing incidents.
Of the $5.6 million from the 2/3 bond money that has been made available to Guilford County Schools for safety and reopening schools, the district has spent more than $2.5 million and has another $1.2 million under contract.
FOX8 has asked how many security cameras need to be replaced or added as well as how many cameras have been replaced with the available funds.
The district currently does not have a number.
There is also no timetable for when the rest of the funds will be used.