Security Camera Upgrades Allow Easier Access for Administrators

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James Blair administrative offices
James Blair administrative offices

The Williamsburg-James City County School Division is upgrading its security system across the division.

The WJCC School Board approved the installation of a new video security system provided by Op Tech that will allow administrators to access school security systems and cameras remotely or on site at the school buildings.

Berkeley Middle School is currently the only school in the division with cameras that can be remotely accessed by administrators. Berkeley’s system upgrade was paid for through a grant from the Virginia Department of Education issued in September 2014.

The $150,000 expenditure will be paid for with previously approved funds for a project to renovate the bleachers at Jamestown High School in the division’s capital improvement plan for fiscal year 2014. The finance directors for James City County and the City of Williamsburg both signed off on repurposing the funds.

In February, WJCC issued a request for proposals for the project and received eight responses. WJCC administrators reviewed four of the proposals, and selected Op Tech’s, which was also the lowest bid.

WJCC Senior Director for Operations Marcellus Snipes said the new system was needed to coordinate the security cameras at the division’s 15 school buildings, which are not uniform. Some of the cameras are analog, while others are digital.

The digital cameras allow users to manipulate the screen, save images, and enhance and enlarge images.

Because the cameras can be accessed remotely, emergency responders will be able to view feeds from the cameras in the case of an emergency situation.

Snipes said the division’s long-term plan is to upgrade all the security cameras across the division to digital, with the new system serving as a temporary fix. The system will also allow digital cameras to plug into it as they are installed across the division.

No additional cameras will be installed through the project.

The school board was unanimous in backing the upgrade.

“I’m happy we’re doing this,” board member Joe Fuentes (Powhatan) said.

Installation of the new system is expected to occur in the next few months.