Security cameras headed to CMS elementary, middle schools

Security cameras will be installed in 46 Charlotte-Mecklenburg elementary schools and 12 middle schools in time for the 2014-15 school year.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously approved a nearly $2.5 million contract for Simplex Grinnell to install cameras in 44 elementary schools.

The board also unanimously approved a nearly $1.1 million contract for Cochrane Inc. to provide cameras for 12 middle schools and two additional elementary schools.

The companies were the low bidders on the proposals, which were publicly bid in December as part of the school system’s $19.3 million effort to beef up security at its schools.

The plan includes an identification system for visitors, better equipment to communicate with law enforcement and security cameras on all campuses. The plan also requires students and staff to carry picture IDs in schools.

CMS officials have said they consider the district to be very safe, but the new plan was meant to enhance security already in place. They said it could help reduce crime and theft, and deter bullying, while making it easier to identify and manage people who enter school buildings.

CMS already has about 2,500 cameras across the district, including at high schools and administrative sites. The new plan for elementary and middle schools increases that number to 6,500.

The board on Tuesday also heard the results of a teacher survey on the state legislature’s order that districts offer four-year contracts with $500-a-year raises to 25 percent of the teachers who meet standards for experience and proficient job ratings. Last summer, the state legislature voted to phase out teacher tenure, known as career status, by 2018.

CMS and other districts around the state have been struggling with the best way to select the 25 percent, and some teachers have said they’ll refuse the contracts if offered.

The survey revealed a “high level of dissatisfaction” with the 25 percent measure, with teachers saying it will negatively impact morale. Respondents said teachers might leave the state or the profession because of the requirement.

The CMS board is scheduled to vote March 11 on criteria teachers would have to meet to receive the four-year contracts.

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