District plans to improve security

Mechanicburg could spend up to $37,000 on school safety features.

Mechanicsburg school board members are considering a plan to improve security in the district by installing new cameras and requiring visitors to buzz in at additional entrances to school facilities.

The board’s plan would include replacing at least 17 cameras that no longer work, and installing a system that would require visitors to buzz into the school at entrances at the high school and central district offices, said Dan Kaffenbarger, superintendent for the district. Initially, 60 security cameras were installed when the new school was built in 2007, but many of those cameras have already stopped working.

The board is considering proposals from five vendors, and the cost could range from about $20,000 to about $37,000, Kaffenbarger said.

The district would likely pay for the plans with Locally Funded Initiative funds, money left over from when the building was first constructed, Kaffenbarger said. The project would be considered a capital improvement and would not be paid for from the general fund budget.

In the long-term, the board hopes to replace the remaining analog cameras currently used with digital cameras. The digital cameras are slightly more expensive, but they provide a better resolution and can more easily rotate to view a larger area. The newer cameras can also be viewed at a different location, such as the Mechanicsburg Police Department.

The district regularly reviews its security plans, Kaffenbarger said, and additional changes are possible in the future, particularly after incidents such as a shooting late last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut , in which 26 people were killed.

“There is an added sense of urgency to make buildings as safe as possible,” Kaffenbarger said.

In other action, Kaffenbarger said board members briefly discussed a proposed levy that was pulled from the ballot earlier this year. The board had initially sought a renewal of a 2.3-mill levy and an increase of 5.85 mills — a combined 8.15-mill issue that would raise taxes about $180 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home. But the issue was pulled from the May ballot due to incorrect wording.

Although the board did not make a formal decision this week, he said it appears unlikely the district will seek a special election in August to place the issue on the ballot. The board will likely continue to review the matter before making a final decision, however.

“As our five-year forecast continues to take shape under the direction of a new treasurer, we’re going to have a more solid picture of where we are financially,” Kaffenbarger said.