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MVSD upgrading security equipment at local high school

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Dauphin Regional Comprehensive Secondary School (DRCSS) is getting a security upgrade.
At the Oct. 15 regular board of trustees meeting for Mountain View School Division (MVSD), CAO Dan Ward reported the DRCSS parent advisory council (PAC) requested an upgrade to the existing security system at the local Grades 9 to 12 school.
“In the letter to myself and the board of trustees, the DRCSS PAC shared their concerns about the current system,” Ward said.
“And certainly when systems age, the quality of the surveillance system tends to degrade over time. And last year we had some conversations around upgrading systems in a number of our schools, including the DRCSS.”
Secretary-treasurer Bart Michaleski explained MVSD plans to utilize some of the existing equipment, such as cameras and wiring.
“A lot of the stuff from the old system that was still functional, but it’ll be increasing the capacity of the DVR (digital video recorder) that controls all your cameras,” Michaleski said.
“I think they only maybe have a dozen that are functioning. So it’ll increase to probably around 50 cameras, a lot more external cameras and cameras in the building.
You’re never going to cover the entire space of the building, but you’re going to look at things like stairwells and things like that where we currently don’t have surveillance equipment. It’s going to have a lot of broader coverage than what they’ve had previously.”
PAC had raised concern over the lack of exterior cameras and Michaleski noted the high school currently has one camera in the front, to scan the parking lot.
“But I don’t know that it’s functioning. So, again, it’s part of an older system and, especially the ones that are outside, I think they tend to weather more than the ones inside,” he said.
“We certainly want to install a few more cameras so that we can, hopefully keep people from coming on the property and potentially doing bad things. But we want to be able to track as much of that activity as we can.”
Ward pointed out MVSD tracks data throughout the year and there have been a number of concerns identified with problematic behaviours around DRCSS.
“We know that a surveillance system on its own is not going to eliminate those issues, but it’s a tool that the DRCSS administration can use,” he said.
For example, cameras are a preventative tool, Ward noted, because when students know cameras are present, there is less problematic behaviour. Also, if staff need to investigate an incident, the cameras are helpful, he said.
“So when we track some of the problematic behaviours, we’ve definitely seen an increase in a number of areas. The one that the PAC cited, which I think our data would certainly support, is the incidence of vaping. And vaping is prohibited on school property, so that’s an issue I know the DRCSS administration has been contending with,” Ward added.
While PAC also raised concern with incidents of gun and weapon threatening behaviour across the province, Ward feels the group is referencing incidents that have happened in other divisions.
“And certainly any school division in Manitoba has to be aware of the fact that there is, from time to time, online threats, or threats from individuals outside the school. We have not had any at the DRCSS this school year, but certainly we’re vigilant to that and we do have a threat and risk assessment procedure that we follow very closely in co-operation with the RCMP,” he added.
Michaleski anticipates the new system will be installed at DRCSS within the next couple of months, as MVSD and school administration recently discussed the plan for camera placement and whether anything was missed in the proposal.
“So in the next couple of weeks, we’ll have our quote firmed up and it’s the type of thing that can be done during school. A lot of our work is done in the hallways and so it’s not really impacting instruction,” he added.
The cost of a security system upgrade at DRCSS is estimated at up to $60,000.
“So they’re certainly not inexpensive ventures, but it’s weighing the costs with the benefit, obviously. We’ve got all these systems in our buse,s too, and it was a substantial investment, but it’s been very helpful in mitigating things like bullying and addressing activities that happen on the bus. So, there certainly are benefits all around to having these systems,” Michaleski said.

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M. A. Nyquist
REPORTER
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