CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Jean-Claude Brizard today announced that the installation of new, high-definition security cameras at 14 high schools has been completed ahead of schedule and under budget, saving the District $200,000. The cameras are just one component of the District’s efforts to create safe and positive learning environments for students.
Despite facing difficult economic times this fiscal year, CPS officials committed to funding a set of priorities to help boost student learning. This included efforts to create safer school climates by adding new state-of-the-art camera systems to 14 schools after a successful pilot was launched at Fenger High School during the 2010/2011 school year.
“Building environments where students feel safe and secure is a critical tool in boosting their academic achievement,” said CEO Brizard. “We need to provide instructional supports to help teachers and principals drive student growth in the classroom, and building a safer learning climate goes hand in hand with those efforts. We hope that Dunbar and the additional 13 high schools benefitting from these security cameras will experience similar results to those that helped move Fenger in the right direction.”
The proposed new camera strategy was projected to cost $7 million with a completion date of May 1st, 2012. Officials today announced that the final cost came in at $6.8 million and was completed on March 31st.
Implementation of the system will build upon the existing successes in student safety and school climate exhibited at Fenger since the pilot began there. Misconduct cases declined by 59 percent from the previous school year, while arrests dropped by 69 percent and index crimes declined by 67 percent. False fire alarms at Fenger also dropped from eight in the 2008 school year to zero last year. Fenger also has seen a decrease in drop-out rates from 19 percent to five percent currently.
The high schools that received the cameras through this installation include: Clemente, Hyde Park, Sullivan, Morgan Park, Orr, Marshall, Dunbar, Manley, Bogan, Wells, Senn, Juarez, Julian and Farragut. These schools were identified through the use of specific safety metrics and school incident data – such as number of cases of severe misconduct under the CPS Student Code of Conduct, arrests in or on school property, and crimes in or on school property reported by law enforcement.
The Chicago Public Schools security camera system was introduced in 1999. The present system is comprised of video recording system with 7,000-plus analogue cameras across 268 schools. Another 365 schools currently have no cameras. Moving to the new state-of-the-art camera platform will enhance the current system and also leverage resources from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC).
Along with the safety technology, CPS is using the safety initiatives it implemented at Fenger as a model for the holistic approach it is taking to promote positive learning environments throughout the District. These other initiatives include new policies and practices around training adult staff in more restorative justice practices, as well as installing new classroom curriculum that helps children develop their social skills in areas such as problem solving and anti-bullying.
Last fall, CEO Brizard created the Department of Youth Development and Positive Behavior Supports, which provides schools with tools to develop students’ social and emotional skills and establish a positive climate to dramatically reduce disruptions to learning. The new department has made available to schools District-wide strategies pertaining to school climate, social-emotional learning, and behavioral interventions. Through the work of this new department, CPS has already begun to see results with 28 percent fewer expulsion referrals and a 43 percent decrease in expulsions than at this same point one year ago.
“Creating safe school climates comes from a multi-faceted strategy. With our new focus on a holistic safety approach and an increased emphasis on setting and supporting expectations for proper behavior within schools, we can achieve that goal,” Brizard said.
CPS works with the Mayor’s Office Citywide Camera Committee. Other agencies involved in the committee include OEMC, CPD, Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Housing Authority, Navy Pier, Chicago Department of Aviation, City Colleges of Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority and the Public Building Commission of Chicago.
The Chicago Public Schools serves approximately 405,000 students in more than 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school system.