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Leeds Elementary School

Teachers are trained at Leeds Elementary School in Sioux City on July 23. Leeds is one of 17 elementary schools in the district to be installed with eight security cameras.

SIOUX CITY | Sioux City’s 17 elementary schools soon will be equipped with security cameras to further ensure the safety of staff and students.

The Sioux City school district on Monday approved an agreement with Midwest Alarm to install eight cameras in each elementary school, as well as update more than 200 existing cameras in its middle schools, high schools and other district buildings.

Elementary schools currently are not equipped with security cameras, said Neil Schroeder, school district director of technology.

"We decided we're going to really cover key points in the buildings," he said. "Every building has a front door, an office, a lunch room. Those areas we thought were the same level of concern and commonality."

Leeds Elementary School Principal Mette Malek said the addition of the cameras will allow the district to ensure the safety of anyone inside the buildings. 

"Our number one job is to keep the students and staff safe at all times," she said. "These cameras will help us do that better than we already are."

Twenty-five buildings within the Sioux City school district will see the addition of 156 cameras, and the replacement of 225 existing and outdated cameras, Schroeder said.

The project costs $454,285 and will be completed by August 2016.

Alison Benson, director of communications, said the decision to take a look at existing security measures resulted from a disaster drill in 2013/2014. All district staff participated in a mock shooting to identify areas that needed improvement.

After the simulation, the district identified a need to add and enhance surveillance throughout the district, she said. Benson said it's important for schools to be prepared for any potential disaster, not just a shooting.

“I don’t think there’s one incident that’s more predominant over another,” she said. “You have to plan for any possible incident.”

Schroeder said the district also saw a need to update technology.

“We’re faced with a scenario where it’s time to refresh,” he said. “Some (cameras) were purchased around 2000 and we’re starting to see some failures.”

New and up-to-date technology will allow for greater access to the surveillance systems as well, Schroeder said. In an emergency, the system could be accessed from a smartphone.

“When it’s digital the resolution is far better,” he said. “The ability to search and track is far improved."

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