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More cameras, window coverings top Pasco school security priorities

Schools identified these needs after a thorough review of their campuses.
Pasco County schools assistant superintendent for operations Betsy Kuhn oversees the district's campus security initiatives.
Pasco County schools assistant superintendent for operations Betsy Kuhn oversees the district's campus security initiatives. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Oct. 23, 2019

Surveillance cameras remain high on the list of requests for several Pasco County schools as they seek to bolster their safety features for the coming years.

The need arises particularly among middle and high schools, which didn’t all get as much attention to this equipment in the district’s first round of security improvements last year. When the district received $2.2 million from the state, in response to the 2018 Parkland school massacre, it prioritized cameras and door locks.

Related: <b>RELATED: </b> Pasco schools plan to add cameras, door locks as part of security upgrades

In addition to continued addition of cameras, several schools also will get window coverings that still allow light in, but make it harder for outsiders to see what’s happening inside. The district does not plan to wrap schools in their entirety, assistant superintendent Betsy Kuhn said, but rather to add the shielding in strategic areas.

“That’s a major recommendation of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas commission,” Kuhn said.

She added that the district will strive to find a balance between ensuring schools are open and welcoming, but also safe and secure.

The district expects to get about $1.2 million from the state toward this effort.

The information comes from the district’s state-required safe schools assessment, which is due at the end of the year. It’s the second year the state has mandated submission of highly detailed reviews, that look at everything from access points to generator locations at every school.

Districts don’t reveal the campus by campus information. That’s not public record, in order to avoid handing over sensitive details to anyone who asks for it.

But they do publicly present their overarching goals and plans, to explain to parents and taxpayers how they generally plan to protect the children and employees in schools.

With limited funds, making the decisions about which campuses to prioritize can be trying, Kuhn said.

“We debate a lot about which schools are our most difficult,” she said. “They are all different.”

Some smaller individual projects, such as fencing repairs, also will be on the list.

The School Board will review the public components of its safety assessment when it meets Tuesday. It also will hold a closed door session that afternoon to review the more specific details.

See the primary findings here.