The cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools announced plans this week to install high-definition surveillance cameras at 14 more troubled high schools around the city, at a price tag of $7 million.
As many as 80 cameras will be installed at the schools, which are some of the worst in the district in terms of crime on school property and reports of severe misconduct -- Clemente, Hyde Park, Sullivan, Morgan Park, Orr, Marshall, Dunbar, Tilden, Bogan, Wells, Senn, Juarez, Julian and Farragut are the schools in the district's sights, according to an NBC Chicago report.
Such surveillance was first implemented in a pilot program at Fenger High School after the brutal beating death of 16-year-old honor student Derrion Albert at that school. According to ABC, that program has seen results. Since the installation of the cameras (and the addition of other security measures), the school has seen a 79 percent decrease in arrests, a 59 percent drop in misconduct reports, and a gain in standardized test scores.
Fenger principal Elizabeth Dozier praised the cameras as part of the school safety picture. "You have the cameras, you have your additional counselors, your social and emotional supports, all these different things that make up the turnaround school," she told ABC. "I think that really led to this increase, and that's really forging the way for us to move forward as a school."
The one obvious drawback of the cameras is their cost. CPS is grappling with enormous financial concerns: even after denying teachers their anticipated four-percent pay raises, the district is still staring down the barrel of a roughly $600 million deficit.
But new schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said over the weekend that money is no object when it comes to student safety.
"Despite the tough economic times facing our district, we're taking additional steps to reduce crime and create a school environments that are safe for students and staff, which is vital for teaching and learning," Brizard said Sunday, according to FOX Chicago. "Enhancing and maintaining a real sense of safety and creating a positive environment within our schools is a significant tool in driving student outcomes."
Still, the district will have to figure out where to find the money for the high-tech cameras. Instead of the roughly 7,000 analog cameras that are installed in hundreds of schools citywide, these will port high-resolution digital images directly to nearby police stations and other public safety facilities.