No verdict on cameras

School Board seeks more community input about security measures


— Steamboat Springs School Board members declined to vote on a proposal Monday night to boost security measures at all four district schools, citing the need for more community input and lingering questions about funding a plan that could include internal security cameras.

In December, school officials received a $533,000 federal "Secure Our Schools" grant to help boost security measures at all four schools in the school district. To help match the grant, district officials have set aside $245,000. They hope to secure an equal amount from the Education Fund Board. Routt County commissioners last week rejected a request from district officials for matching funds.

School Board members, city officials, school administrators and community members spent Monday's board meeting debating the pros and cons of purchasing electronic keycard access systems as well as interior and exterior security cameras that would be funded as part of the grant.

The School Board voted Dec. 3 to purchase 800 MHz radios for administrators at a cost of $145,284. But board members continue to waver over the need for internal security cameras. Proponents have said internal cameras would increase safety and decrease crime such as theft and vandalism. Opponents have argued the cameras invade the privacy of students and could destroy a culture of trust established at campuses such as Steamboat Springs High School.

There have been few, if any, objections to cameras mounted on the exterior of school buildings and in parking lots.

"The way I look at any security measure is that we want our children - our students - to be comfortable in our schools, we want our teachers safe and comfortable, and we want parents feeling safe sending their children to our schools," School Board member Lisa Brown said. "My concern is that whatever we decide on actually provides any security."

Superintendent Sandra Smyser asked those in attendance Monday to consider the merits of the security measures, including who they would benefit and how much they would cost.

School Board member John DeVincentis, who strongly voiced his opposition to internal cameras when the issue was first brought to the board in December, said his concerns have been eased in recent weeks by discussing the issue with members of the community.

"I may not have as many reservations if we get a policy together," he said. "It seems that everything that is monetary is being rushed though. Let's take time to get a policy done, and a policy done well."

After the meeting, School Board President Robin Crossan said there is no timetable for a vote on the school security measures.

However, district Facilities Director Rick Denney said he hopes a decision is made soon so any additional security measures can be incorporated into the construction of Soda Creek Elementary School.

DeVincentis noted that he hopes the decision is not driven by monetary concerns.

"One of the things that concerned me with this whole discussion (is) it seems like we are always in a rush and we are worried about money right now, but we don't even have a policy in place," he said.

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail


nondescript1 9 years, 3 months ago

I may have missed something important, so I will apologize in advance, but what do the administrators need 800 mhz radios for? Don't these radios sound kind of expensive? Help me out a little bit here.


letomayo 9 years, 3 months ago

It is easy to get tax dollars for any security devise. Make it sound like it has alot of power and it means it is better. Someone said on another site that they could sell radios to the school for$40,000. Is that true?

If you have a security company do a security study do you think they will find a way to sell you some security paraphenailea at there price and schools are born suckers for it. And I know cops mostly work for security companies is that why the Steamboat cops are so hot on this? Its not there money so lets spend it.

I'm glad the board is thinkiing this over before spending money because they have it to spend. Security in my day was a pair of brass nuckles and a roll of coins in a sock now we have exspensive mace and tazers and pepperspray and karate classes and noise makers and anoying car alarms that go off and beep until you want to kick the driver who owns the car and does anyone do anything when the alarm is going off or do the police investigate no it just makes everyone annoyued.


untamedShrewd 9 years, 3 months ago

Visit this interview with University of Virginia psychologist Dewey Cornell about school violence and shootings In a nutshell, he's saying that fears versus facts:
The question is, prepare for what? Students will encounter fights, bullying, teasing, drugs, etc. in school. We need to focus our time and energy and school security dollars on the problems that we face every day, not the fears of things that are so remote. Some schools need more security than others. Some schools need locked doors because the neighborhood is dangerous. We cannot generalize to all schools because of the unusual, extreme cases. We need to look at the needs of each school, factually and objectively, and see what security needs that school has. We need to provide our kids with some basic ground rules. And children should participate in programs to reduce violence or destructive behavior. There have been over 200 controlled studies of school based violence prevention. The average effective program reduces violence such as fighting by about 50%. The most effective programs include counseling, cognitive behavior therapy, conflict resolution, training, social skills training. Not adding security cameras. Remember: all the camera footage of school shootings or kids being abducted from parking lots came after the incident, not prior to. Thus, not as a prevented measure.


dave reynolds 9 years, 3 months ago

My daughter goes to middle school i would fell more comfortable with security cameras spot harrassment,bulling and racial discrimation which she has been a victum of two outta least with the cams it would detor almost all of it


SkiTownUSA 9 years, 3 months ago

Knowitall -

It is not true that anyone can walk into our schools at any time. At least at the high school, all doors are locked from the outside, with the exception of the main doors at the front of the building. Anyone entering the school must walk right in front of the office, which is full of many nosy office workers (I am a student :).

That said, I do not support the idea of security cameras in the schools. There is not enough use for them to justify the effect they will have on the school atmosphere.


letomayo 9 years, 3 months ago

I thought Dr. D was just one vote for the radios and it was unimous The adminstration and cops wanted to get those radios and spend are money this article says the board wants to take it's time and figure out what policy there should be and it sounds like the cops and Derney or pushing the board to hurry up and buy the radios and cameras.


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