While students were on winter break, Neligh-Oakdale School received a needed security upgrade, but some people will never even realize that it happened.
Security continues to be a hot topic for the school, which during Monday’s Board of Education restricted public access to its weightroom. The facility will no longer be open to anyone in the public, other than youth coaches.
Neligh-Oakdale upgraded its outdated security system that was nearly 10 years old. Neligh-Oakdale Superintendent Scott Gregory said the change is necessary.
“It’s like night and day. Over 10 or 15 years, people don’t have the same computers that they did, the same phone,” Gregory said. “Of course, you will have the same house or car maybe, but generally speaking, things improve. And you have to keep up and you have to do the best and use the resources that you can and use it for a good purpose.”
Long before Gregory was hired, there was discussion on options to update the camera system along with the door security. Safe N Secure installed the initial camera system in 2006, which was eight black and white basic cameras.
“You can’t pick out a lot of details. You can’t zoom in very well, and the picture is kind of grainy,” he explained. “If someone speeds through the front, you can’t see a license plate very well, and the system was just getting very old.”
The school now has more than 30 cameras.
Gregory credits Neligh-Oakdale Principal Mr. Loofe for his role in getting the new system.
“I’ve got to give Mr. Loofe credit. That was kind of his interest,” Gregory explained. “He wanted to get that done. His concern was that to have an operational system and to have it so that we wouldn’t go down mid-year and face that problem. I approached it as I have been in that office and have seen those screens and it is just, we had to do something.”
Using the same company, Safe N Secure, the school was able to use most of the same cables for the update.
“There were one or two of them that were damaged but for the most part same cables,” Loofe said.
The new cameras are not the only upgrade that came over Christmas break. The entrances to the school have a different system now as well. Gregory said there is one thing that came with the new security at the doors that makes the school safer.
“One of the main things in there is it has a kill switch,” Gregory explained. “The main problem with the older system too was that during passing periods when the bell rings, the doors unlock. There was no way to override that. With this system that does not happen so the doors are locked even during passing period.”
The kill switch also makes it so no key FOB will open the door as well. Although nothing may happen that would cause authorities to use the kill switch, Gregory said he would rather be safe than sorry.
“What are the chances? I couldn’t tell you,” he said. “But as long as you take away any chance that is a good thing.”
With the change in security, the school now runs on a key FOB system instead of the previous system with cards.
Loofe and Gregory explained the new system to the school board at their meeting on Monday evening. They were also hoping to get some answers on how to handle giving the FOBs out to the public for use of the gym or weight room.
In the past, the public has had access to the weight room if they paid $10 for the card to access the room. Gregory said there has been times where there are students in the weight room without adult supervision, which is not allowed. But there have been community members who follow all the rules.
“On the opposite side of things, we do have college kids who do come back and do use the weight room on Christmas break, very good kids,” Gregory said. “I would trust them.”
The option to have a checkout system for those other than teachers and coaches was brought up. Gregory was looking to the board to answer how he should handle the situation of the distribution of the other FOBs.
Gregory was worried about liability if an accident were to occur in the school.
“We haven’t had anything happen yet, but you never know,” he said. “So before we hand out FOBs I think it is appropriate that the board decides the parameters of use.”
Board member Ryan Koinzan said that they most likely wouldn’t be able to come up with a policy on the matter right now.
The board agreed that Loofe should continue to look at the possibility of getting cameras at other locations like the football field and Westward Elementary.
“West Ward is currently camera only, for the three buzz in doors,” Loofe explained at the meeting. “So in order to do that they would need to have a DVR similar to mine. So I also asked for a bid for an eight camera DVR with 7 cameras.”
Loofe asked Safe N Secure for an estimate on a price for four extra cameras for the bus area and the playground area.
“There’s not a lot, but we have had some vandalism at the playground area,” Loofe said. “And the bus area, it’s always nice to have that recorded.”
If the board votes to move forward with more cameras for the football field and Westward the installation would not start until the summer.
But as of now, the board and administration is pleased with the results.
“It’s money well spent,” Gregory said. “I don’t regret it at all.”