Lake Placid schools to get new security camera systems

Parents voice concerns over open doors

LAKE PLACID — For the past four years or so, the Lake Placid School District has been trying to install new camera security systems in both the elementary and middle-high schools. With the possible threat of violence in schools both locally and nationally, the school board made it a top priority this spring.

“The cameras will provide us with another tool,” said school Superintendent Roger Catania. “We want people to know that we’re on top of things. We’re responding to the reality and the perception. Evidence shows schools are safer now than they were 20 years ago, but if a parent says their child doesn’t feel safe in school, that matters.”

Catania said the security system, which will be installed by the security systems group Linstar, will cost about $100,000.

“The Smart School Bond Act allowed for schools to finance security systems through a grant process,” he said, “but that process has been difficult, complicated and incredibly slow. This year, with the heightened concern about school safety, we started talking about other ways to find the funds.”

The cost was allocated from the district’s general and capital funds, as well as a few other areas where the board has saved money, according to Catania.

The installation began this week and will be completed this summer in time for the 2018-19 school year.

“We knew if we didn’t get them installed during summer, we wouldn’t be able to do them until well into the school year,” Catania said.

At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, a few parents raised concerns about safety in the middle-high school. David and Niki Coursen both drive school buses for the district and have children in the middle-high school. David is also a former member of the Lake Placid Police Department.

They first commended Catania and high school Principal Dana Wood for their speedy reaction to a rumored threat of violence in the school earlier this month, which heightened local police presence on campus. However, David was concerned with how easily he walked into the school one day while dropping off a check for his daughter’s softball jacket.

“I go to the gym door on School Street — walk right in the gym, not even thinking,” he said. “I suddenly realize, four days after we had this building full of law enforcement, I walked into the building, and nobody even noticed I was here.”

At the time, many students were in the gym, taking regents exams.

“It dawned on me just how vulnerable everybody was,” David continued. “It scared the hell out of me.”

Wood said the school tries to teach staff and students to keep doors closed, and that people should go through the designated entrances, but sometimes people forget and don’t notice. In a phone interview, Catania said open doors are a problem the district is trying to fix, but the weather is also a factor, especially in the winter.

“Sand and salt for roads and walkways actually get in the door and can keep it from latching,” he said. “It causes some deterioration and can block mechanisms.”