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Do you ever feel like you’re being watched?

By Staff | Nov 15, 2015

Some cameras are already visible on the exterior of the Blue Earth Area High School.

Big Brother might not be watching, but Blue Earth Area High School principal Rich Schneider sure is.

Schneider’s report to the Blue Earth Area School Board last Monday night included information on a fully upgraded surveillance system at the BEA High School.

“We have upgraded our system with all digital cameras and added some new ones as well,” Schneider reported. “We now have 25 cameras around the school.”

The principal said they have added six more cameras outside the building, so they can monitor any activity anywhere around the school grounds.

“The difference from what we had to what we now have is remarkable,” Schneider told the board. “Before, if I saw a student (do something wrong) I?might see they had a red sweatshirt on and hope no other student was wearing a red sweatshirt that day. The picture was often too dark and grainy.”

With the new equipment, not only is the picture crystal clear, the image can be enlarged even if it was previously recorded. And, the enlarged image stays clear.

“One of the nice features on the new system is that I can access it on my (smart) phone,” Schneider says. “So can the School Resource Officer.”

When questioned by the School Board, Schneider said that the local police and County Sheriff also have the capability to see the video live as well. Or be able to check it later, if ever necessary.

All the digital video from all 25 cameras is automatically kept for approximately 30 days.

Superintendent Evan Gough says the new camera system had a $40,000 budget and is part of a safety upgrade at the school.

The camera system upgrade was not the only technology upgrade the School Board discussed at their meeting.

Jennifer Berkner, BEA District technology coordinator and media specialist,brought a proposal for doing some tech upgrades to the board meeting room.

“We first were thinking about using mounted projectors and screens for giving presentations in here,” Berkner said. “But we have decided to go with interactive flat panel screens.”

The proposal is for two 70-inch flat panels on two different walls with wireless transmitter and receivers. Tierney Brothers will be doing the installation work.

Total cost of the upgrades, with electrical work, comes to $6,347.24. Berkner said the amount is in the technology budget.

Board member Dawn Fellows questioned the cost for the board room when presentations are given to the board only once or twice a month. And board member Jesse Haugh asked if there were some other rooms that could use the new items more.

However Berkner and Superintendent Gough said the board meeting room is used by staff and groups almost every day, and sometimes several times a day.

In other business at last Monday’s meeting, the School Board:

Approved having principal Melissa McGuire to be the designated LEA representative for BEA Schools Title I. The position was previously filled by former principal Kevin Grant.

Added Braeden Hogie to the winter coaches list as C-team girls’ basketball coach.

Approved leave of absence for Janessa Maudal and Tonya Hurley, as well as accepted the resignation of Natalie Huntley as high school Spanish teacher.

Approved contracts for staff members Dar Holmseth (Community Ed director), Rob Norman (activities director), Al Gieser (buildings and grounds supervisor), Dan Brod (transportation coordinator), Heidi Olson (accountant) and Dexter Prechel (bus mechanic).