New security camera system now operating at Arroyo Grande High School

High tech cameras providing improved

New security camera system now...

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. - There's a new eye in the sky at the home of the Eagles. It's a state-of-the-art security camera system that is now operational at Arroyo Grande High School.

"We have 48 high definition cameras placed strategically across the campus," said Lucia Mar Unified School District assistant superintendent Andy Stenson. "This was all about safety, student safety and safety for the campus."

The high-definition cameras now record 24 hours a day, seven days a week across the sprawling 59-acre campus.

"They're located all around campus at vantage points to allow them to see the largest area possible from that particular perspective," said principal Dan Neff. "We have them all the way from the front of the school to the back of Ag, to the blacktop over on the 900 side, pretty much a comprehensive coverage of the campus."

The new system cost about $100,000 and was funded by the $170 Measure I bond that was passed by south San Luis Obispo County voters last year.

It replaces an outdated system that featured only 11 cameras.

"It provides much better image quality, resolution, our ability to pan. We can move the cameras. We can zoom in and zoom out and the overall quality is much, much higher," said Neff.

The purpose behind the upgrade is to enhance safety and security for the more than 2,000 students enrolled at the school, as well as the staff and faculty.

"One of our top priorities is keeping our students and staff safe," Neff said. "And so having the camera system in place just adds another level to our overall safety plan and allows us, our administrative team and counselors help work within incidents when the do happen and overall works to prevent things from happening."

The cameras cover mostly the outdoor portion of the campus, with only two located indoors. Right now, cameras are located in the gymnasium and multi-purpose room.

There are future plans to add one as well in the Clark Center that is located on school grounds.

Stenson added the importance of the new system is to not only keep a watchful eye on what is happening during school hours, but also when class is out.

"This campus is used almost around the clock, certainly on a weekend, you can't descend on this campus on a Saturday and not see something going," Stenson said. 'So with these cameras being on, we have the ability to monitor and look backward at anything that might have occurred and again, it provides safety for the campus beyond the school hours."

The cameras are a part of a collaboration with the Arroyo Grande Police Department, which installed similar cameras around the city five years ago. 

The partnership allows the police with the ability to access the system in times of need.

"If there is ever a large-scale issue on this campus, the Arroyo Grande Police Department can access those cameras from their police department," said Stenson. "It's a secure website with a secure password. They can monitor the campus from afar, as well as their officers if there are en route to the school, they can bring up the video from their car as well."

With cameras already a fixture on campus since 2007, students are used to electronic monitoring.

Neff said he has yet to hear any negative reaction so far with the added presence. 

"It's actually really helpful because it's keeping our school safer and a lot of the students have been supportive of having them on campus," said student Karly Pinkerton. "It's just making our campus a little bit safer."

As Arroyo Grande officials get used to the new system, Stenson adds similar security features could be added to other district schools.

"Our hope would be that once we get this done that we can expand this to Nipomo High School, Central Coast New Tech High School and then perhaps the middle schools after that," said Stenson.

New cameras at those schools would greatly improved security measures all of those campuses already have in place.

"They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well, video is worth even more," said Neff. "It allows to really what happen or what's going on or what is or what did go on, so that we have that clear definitive factual-based information about whatever that incident was versus just what people say."

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