Committee members wrestle with issues of capacity, security

Friday, April 5, 2013

By Karen Hall

Editor

School board maintenance committee members addressed two main issues at their Tuesday meeting.

One was the question of installing cameras at Cornersville High School. It is the only high school in the county without a camera system.

Undra McCoy, commercial sales manager for Nashville-based Interactive Systems gave a presentation about the cameras his company could install in the school.

They use five-megapixel, not analog, cameras, he said, and the difference in quality is like night and day, McCoy said. The resolution is eight to 10 times better, he said, recounting the story of a store owner who installed the system but complained about the cost. The next week, however, when the store was robbed, the thief was caught in two hours, thanks to the clear images of him and his getaway vehicle taken by the high-quality cameras.

The pictures being taken by the cameras are remotely viewable by Internet with a time lag of nine seconds or less. Up to 10 locations can be viewed at the same time.

It's a one-time purchase, McCoy explained. His company does not monitor the images, and there is no monthly fee. They keep access to the system for the first 30 days in case there are any problems that need to be solved, but after that the passwords are changed, and they can no longer see what's being recorded. There's a one-year warranty on parts and labor.

The software is powerful, McCoy said. It can be tied into an alarm system, monitor opening and closing of doors, or record transactions at a cash register.

The School Resource Officer provided the school's floorplan and the company worked from that, McCoy said. Ideally, if the SRO and Principal Bob Edens could have everything they wanted, there would be 50 cameras in the building.

"That was a wish list," McCoy said. "We could trim it down."

Private schools like Harpeth Hall have worked with Interactive Systems, he said, but now they are also starting to work with local school systems. McCoy named Hickman County and Cheatham County as clients.

Schools Director Jackie Abernathy promised to do some research on camera systems, including checking out how other counties were funding them. The figure mentioned for equipping Cornersville High School was over $30,000.

Money was also on committee members' minds as they addressed the second main issue of the meeting: school capacities and future growth.

Thanks to a spreadsheet prepared by Ken Lilly, they could see historial population numbers of the Lewisburg elementary schools since 2000, and project future growth.

Simply taking the number of classrooms in each school and multiplying that by the permitted number of students per class results in a number that shows the schools have room to spare.

This is not the case, however. Abernathy named the classrooms for each school that are needed for special purposes: art, music, computer labs, special education, English as a second language, and so on.

Eight or 10 rooms in each school are needed for these special-purpose rooms. Taking that into account, Oak Grove and Westhills are already over capacity.

Board members are mindful they have to convince county commissioners to fund a school building program that includes additions to all three Lewisburg elementary schools.

"I like this," said Abernathy, of Lilly's spreadsheet. "Keep it simple. The bottom line is, they want to know how long it's going to last and how much it's going to cost."

The school board held a work session Thursday, and will hold their April meeting Monday at 6:30. The following week, on Tuesday, April 16, a joint meeting of the school board and the county commission's education committee is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. This will start the process that will, hopefully, end with the commission approving the school budget for 2013-2014, as well as agreeing to fund a building program that will leave the system prepared for a decade or more of growth.