GRAFTON, Mass. — Timothy Fauth, assistant principal at Grafton Middle School, opened his MacBook Pro laptop, typed in a password and a few seconds later displayed a series of live video feeds in different parts of the building: stairwells, building entrances and hallways full of students.
The piece of digital security was implemented when the building housed the high school. The middle school and the new high school are the only buildings in the district with this capability.
But after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting tragedy, Grafton Superintendent James Cummings would like this video system installed in the four elementary schools by September as part of an initiative to beef up school safety.
“If, God forbid, anything should happen, any police officer with access can open their laptop,” said Cummings. “They can see what is going on in that building in real time.”
It would cost about $30,000 to install the video system in the four schools, he said, but that would be “fairly cost-effective in the scheme of things.”
To fund the cameras, a town warrant could be written and voted on in May so the district could install the system over the summer, Cummings said.
If approved, cameras would be installed in strategic spots in each elementary school. In an emergency, Grafton police could access that feed from anywhere and pinpoint the location of the threat. “They would know where the intruder is,” Cummings said. “Right now, they would be going in blind.”
The desire to add cameras came after many meetings with his school safety committee and brainstorming sessions with neighboring districts about school safety training called ALICE, an acronym for alert-lockdown-inform-counter-evacuate, he said.
A swipe card system is also being considered for school entrances, Cummings said.
Safety protocols now in place, such as sign-in sheets, buzzer systems and drills, might be tweaked so all school buildings are consistent, he said.
Cummings would also like to implement an evacuation plan and improve the staff's hand-held radio communications.