GRANDVIEW, Mo. — Students at Grandview High School returned to classes Thursday to find nearly 140 new surveillance cameras watching over them.
The security upgrades are designed to make kids feel safer at school.
New high tech cameras have been installed both inside and outside the school, recording areas like the football stadium, field house and parking lots.
The cameras are equipped with sensors that detect movement and can learn to identify individuals by their clothing and shape.
The main entry to the school also is being reconfigured to a double passageway system, where anyone entering would have to be buzzed in twice to gain access to the school.
About $500,000 is being spent on the upgrades, paid for by a bond issue approved by voters in 2016.
“I don’t want kids to come into school and feel like they are coming into a prison,” Superintendent Kenny Rodrequez said. “So we kind of balance that whole safety, but also welcoming environment. I want kids to really like coming to school. When they walk in I want them to enjoy coming in and not feel like, ‘Oh my God, something bad is about to happen because I have do this and I have to go through this.'”
Not making the school feel like a prison means no metal detectors, but Rodrequez says that’s something school leaders constantly re-evaluate.
All of the district’s buses also have been outfitted with new digital cameras.
Grandview’s middle school received similar security enhancements during the holiday break. Elementary schools will get safety improvements later.
The surveillance system replaces some cameras that were more than 15 years old. The police school resource officer says it was hard to identify clothing, let alone faces, in the old images. For more than 1,200 students, that’s all changed now.