Vermont Considering Cameras at Brattleboro Schools

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) - Middle and high school students could soon be monitored by more than just teachers and staff while roaming the hallways between classes.

The Brattleboro Union High School board will consider a policy on security cameras that could bring the devices inside the school campus' walls.

Board Chairman David Dunn said the security cameras installed at the three-school complex last fall have dramatically reduced vandalism to vehicles and the school buildings.

"The cameras would be installed in common areas in the school, such as the cafeteria and the hallways," said Dunn. "It's a means of security and protection for the students."

Nine cameras were originally installed around the perimeter of the high school, Brattleboro Area Middle School and the Windham Regional Career Center in fall 2004, a move that school officials say dropped vandalism reports to zero.

The cameras currently monitor school parking lots, athletic fields and parts of an ongoing $55.7 million construction and renovation project. The cameras can scan areas and zoom in, Dunn said, with a resolution so high that one could view a "light bulb on a scoreboard."

Rewiring of the three schools during the construction project allowed the school to easily lay the wires for the security cameras, said Dunn. The cost to install the cameras is built into the school construction project's budget, he added, and the annual upkeep cost should be minimal.

As is the case with the exterior cameras, the interior ones would not be regularly monitored by school staff, Dunn said, and instead would be viewed if there was a report of an altercation or crime that needed to be investigated.

Dunn said he is not sure how long the recordings are kept by the school district, but said the CDs typically are re-recorded over after a certain period of time.

"We're not building a library here," he said.