School now using video cameras in parking lots, football field.

September 15, 2008 — by Vijay Menon and Saniha Shankar

When students walk into the school’s parking lot, they see a familiar scene of cars and students with backpacks. What they may not realize is that they are being watched over by something unprecedented—video cameras.

For the first time at Saratoga High, video cameras are recording what goes on in the front and back parking lot, football field and swimming pool. Administrators said they took this step based on recommendations from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation last year.

“One of the WASC outcomes was that the campus did have a lot of ins and outs and that felt a little unsafe to the reviewing committee,” said assistant principal Joe Bosco.

According to Bosco, the administration is trying to further improve the security on campus, which he called the school’s top priority. A sign has already gone up in the front parking lot notifying students that they are under surveillance. The cameras will assist by “curtailing any activites that could be deemed unsafe, whether it’s on the weekend or during the school day.”

“This provides a lens by which we can make sure that if there is an incident we can go back and look and see what occurred,” said Bosco. “That was the reason behind that and there was funding available and we had an anonymous donor who helped also.”

The cameras record straight to DVD, allowing administrators to go back and review the tape if there is an incident. In the past, the school has had cases of car vandalism and theft from vehicles.

Although the school is located in a fairly secure environment, he said the administration felt that one “can never be too safe.” On the other side of school, the sports boosters paid to install video cameras to ensure the safety of the new football field.

Students have had a mixed reaction to the implementation of the cameras, but most are understanding of the school’s decision.

“The cameras seem to be an invasion of privacy, but on the other hand, we are on school property, so the school has the right,” said sophomore Harshil Sahai.

Along with the new security measures are other changes from WASC. Among the topics under discussion is a new seventh-period P.E. that will offer dance, yoga, and strength and conditioning. Faculty will be able to take the class along with students. This will make the connections between the students and teachers stronger and provide another environment in which they can interact, according to Bosco.

“I think that’s a really good idea,” said sophomore Walker Hadden. “Having teachers that are closer to the students would make school a lot more fun.”

4 views this week