MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Thanks to the state’s Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA), security systems in buildings throughout the Mahopac School District would get more than $1 million in upgrades if Albany approves the district’s latest spending plan.
In their fifth and final dip into the bond’s $3.2 million allocation for Mahopac, school officials would like to spend $1.2 million to upgrade its security and surveillance systems.
“We have made a lot of advancements in a very short period of time,” Dr. Greg Stowell, assistant superintendent for pupil personnel and educational services, told the board’s Dec. 20 meeting. “Now, we are proposing to upgrade our video surveillance system and add access control and upgrade our visitor-management system. Right now, these systems are not integrated.”
Stowell noted that the entire $3.2 million set aside for Mahopac via the SSBA is 100 percent reimbursable.
“We get it all back from New York State,” he said.
Voters approved the $2 billion SSBA in 2014. Mahopac was allocated $3.2 million through the SSBA to use on technological upgrades throughout its school buildings. School officials opted to use the money over the course of five allocations.
In the first round, the district set aside $186,538 to spend on 540 touchscreen Chromebooks, plus 18 storage/charging carts.
“That was our first entry in the Google platform,” said Stowell, who presented the latest plan with Galit Price, technology coordinator, to the school board.
In the second SSBA project, the district spent $673,060 to upgrade and expand its wireless and network infrastructure while increasing the bandwidth. It also purchased 540 Chromebooks and some storage/charging carts. In the third round, $196,704 was used to purchase 600 touchscreen Chromebooks and storage/charging carts. The fourth allocation saw the district buy 2,470 more Chromebooks for $899,400 as part of the Technology 4 All Initiative.
The new and final proposal would include:
• New video surveillance system
• Access controls
• New visitor management system
• New intrusion system
“We do have video, but it is antiquated,” Stowell said.
With this new video surveillance system, the operator can click on a person on one monitor and it will search/find similar images of that person on any of the other monitors in the system.
“What we are doing is not only increasing the capabilities of our security systems, but we are also increasing the number of cameras by 58 percent,” Stowell said. “The coverage is going to be greatly expanded as well as the resolution of the pictures that we are going to see.”
Each exterior and interior space is mapped for IP cameras. And operators will be able to control who, when and where people access the building. There will be automatic alerts when doors are left ajar. Hundreds of door contacts will be monitored for these door-ajar notifications. There will be instantaneous alarms on exterior doors for lockdowns and lockouts.
“We are putting hundreds of more door contacts through the buildings and it will automatically let us know if we’ve left the door ajar for too long,” said Price. “If there is ever a lockdown or lockout, everything kind of talks to each other and the doors get automatically locked.”
The system also meets compliance mandates for the collection and auditing of visitor data. It will screen against felony and sex offender watch lists and improve security by identifying who is in a facility quickly and accurately—all integrated into the districtwide security system.
Stowell noted that the Smart School Bond Act has a review board that must approve Mahopac’s plan before the district can move forward. He said that could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.
“But we are hoping for the short-end of that,” he said. “We are going to try everything we can do on our end to expedite it.”