Opinions divided about adding more cameras to Everett schools

Opinions divided about adding more cameras to Everett schools
UPDATE: At its Tuesday night meeting, the Everett School Board voted 2-1 in favor of installing the cameras.

EVERETT, Wash. -- More electronic eyes may be coming to all 26 schools in the Everett School District.

The school board will vote Tuesday night on a plan to add as many as 600 new digital cameras to local schools next fall.

Many Everett parents are wondering now if the cameras would ensure student safety or chip away at student privacy.

District officials insist the plan is all about school safety and that no one will monitor the cameras on a daily basis. They'll only be used in emergencies and for crime fighting.

The camera security system is already in place in the Kent School District, and the Everett School Board is expected to approve a similar system for its schools.

Kevin Davis is the resource officer at Everett's Cascade High School, and he agrees with the proposal.

"I'd like to have cameras on every hallway," he said.

Like others in the school district, Davis insists the cameras would only be about safety, and not about surveillance.

If approved, the cameras would be installed only in public places and not in classrooms, bathrooms or locker rooms.

"There is no monitor room where we will be sitting and watching 24/7," Davis said.

But if something happens, such as a theft, bullying or a drug deal, Davis would be able to scan the digital images to investigate the incident.

Even with that understanding, some residents think it's too close to Big Brother.

"I would say I am not for it inside the school if they are outside already," said Teresa Sedlacek. "I think there is enough visibility there."

Because all the cameras would be visible and marked, Davis doesn't think they represent an invasion of privacy.

"The invasion of privacy is if you weren't notified of that video surveillance," he said.

For students living in a post-Sandy Hook world, many say they'd feel safer with added cameras.

"I think it's because I know somebody is able to do something if something happens," said seventh grader Jonathan Murphy.

Police would also have the ability the use the cameras in real-time during an emergency.

Voters approved a levy in 2010 to pay for the equipment.