IRVINE, CA, October 29, 2008 â€“ School violence takes many forms. It encompasses gang activity, vandalism, thefts, bullying, gun use, sexual assaultâ€”just about anything that results in a victim. For that reason, administrators are incorporating a variety of innovative security strategies to create a safer learning environment when constructing new schools, especially for junior highs.
According to the Department of Education, younger students, ages twelve through fourteen, were more likely than older students, ages fifteen through eighteen, to be victims of crime at school. Almost one in five students reported being threatened with a beating, and again this was a more common experience for middle school students (22%) than for high school students (16%). The typical victim of an attack or robbery at school is a male in the seventh grade who is assaulted by a boy his own age.
These were issues that weighed on the minds of administrators designing the new Thomson-McDuffie Junior High School, located in east Georgia between Atlanta and Augusta. Built at a cost of $17.5 million, the new 140,000 square foot facility opened its doors in August, 2008 to more than 600 students who are kept safe and secure with the help of an IP networked surveillance system from Toshiba.
Dr. Steve Rhodes, Principal, Thomson-McDuffie Junior High School, takes pride in the technology: "The technological aspects of the school are beyond what we've seen in the state of Georgia. Each of our classrooms will have a DVD projector in the ceiling. All will have slate writers. Our teachers will have the opportunity to use various aspects of technology. And then lastly, the safety part of the school is something we're certainly proud of. Everyone who has been through the building has just been blown away by the facility being so largeâ€¦ all of the wonderful technology and safety features that we offer."
Chad Umbarger, Business Development Manager for Security in the Atlanta District, and Cindy Howland of Graybar Electric in Augusta, Georgia, met with school officials to discuss their needs in early 2007. After careful consideration, they recommended a hybrid analog/digital solution that had proven itself in other school installations.
"McDuffie County School Board members sought to leverage the CAT5e cabling being run in the school not just for their computer network, but for the video surveillance system; however, a full IP system was cost prohibitive," explained Umbarger. "We recommended a more affordable hybrid approach that networked Toshiba analog cameras with several digital video recorders. Besides saving money, it essentially future-proofed the building if the administration choose to add IP cameras later down the line."
Augusta Telephone, a Graybar contractor who also put in Thomson-McDuffie Junior High Schoolâ€™s telecommunications system, handled the physical installation of the surveillance network. As a result of their hard work and Graybarâ€™s planning, the school began monitoring the building within minutes after the installation.
Establishing a tight safety net around the students, a total of seventy-two Toshiba cameras are mounted in school hallways, at entry and exit points, and in the gymnasium. Outside, three vandal-proof Toshiba IK-VR01A day-night dome cameras are positioned within the bus stop located in front of the school to provide coverage of the grounds and parking lot. Another four IK-VR01Aâ€™s are mounted inside the gym where their vandal-proof engineering keeps the cameras from being damaged by basketballs or other sports equipment.