Montgomery County Public Schools will see new security measures including cameras added at its buildings after the County Council voted Tuesday to allocate both state and county funds toward the efforts that will cost about $9 million.
The vote Tuesday approved $1.67 million in new county funds to add to about $3.1 million already approved within the county’s capital improvements program.
The roughly $9 million in new security spending includes about $4 million from a state school security initiative — money the county had to match to receive, said James Song, director of the school system’s department of facilities management.
Song said the money will go toward interior and exterior cameras as well as “physical improvements” to school buildings that will ensure visitors check in at an administration office before they have access to the rest of the school.
For schools with an administration office deeper within their building, measures such as security gateways will help guide people to the check-in location, he said.
All of the system’s schools were evaluated, Song said, and cameras will be installed at elementary, middle and high schools. For most elementary schools, this initiative will result in their first cameras, said Adrienne Karamihas, budget and operations manager for the school system.
County Councilman George Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park raised the concern he said he heard from a constituent that the cameras would not be continuously monitored.
Karamihas said the system doesn’t have the staff to monitor the cameras.
“If there is an incident, though, they can then look back at the tape to see what’s going on,” she said.
She later added that some schools do have front-door cameras that are monitored.
County Councilman Marc Elrich (D-At large) of Takoma Park said he was concerned that the cameras would only be used to look back for evidence of an incident that had occurred, rather than helping direct security to an ongoing situation.
Song said the system’s next steps regarding security will include developing programs and drill practices to ensure kids are prepared.
“It’s developing that culture and understanding,” he said.