Requests for bids went out this week to replace and add security cameras at the high school and install new ones at the middle school.
The cameras will cost $68,532, but the schools will pay half. Matching grants were secured from the U.S. Department of Justice's Secure Our Schools program.
The high school has 13 low-quality cameras, maintenance supervisor Michael Comeau told the School Committee Tuesday.
The cameras are needed partly because the building is used well past the normal school day for such activities as community college courses and athletics, Southbridge High School Principal William K. Bishop said.
The cameras at the high school hang about eight inches from low ceilings, and students are aware they can be rendered useless by turning or disconnecting them, Mr. Bishop said.
"We're not trying to invade on anyone's privacy," he said. It was more to be proactive and keep students and the building safe, he said.
All 13 cameras inside the building will be replaced, and four will be installed outside.
Mr. Bishop said the school has motion detectors in some parts of the building, but said it is impossible to protect every room.
Police Lt. William Hibbard said the Police Department does not want passwords or the ability to enter the system. Officers would only look at things if administrators asked them to investigate, he said.
The cameras won't have sound, which reduced overall costs significantly, Mr. Comeau said.