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Chambersburg school board to seek bids on camera, alarm systems

February 03, 2006|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A dozen Chambersburg Area School District school buildings, including two that were burglarized a total of five times last year, could have video surveillance and alarm systems by the beginning of the 2006-07 school year.

The school board voted Wednesday to advertise for bids on a package of capital improvement projects totaling an estimated $646,000. Among the projects, the district is seeking quotes to install camera and alarm systems at Chambersburg Area Middle School and Buchanan, Coldbrook, Falling Spring, Grandview, Guilford Hills, Hamilton Heights, Lurgan, Marion, New Franklin, South Hamilton and Stevens elementary schools, as well as the district administration building.

Between August and December 2005, Lurgan was broken into three times and Grandview twice by thieves that stole laptop and desktop computers and other technology equipment valued at approximately $85,000. School officials said neither of those buildings had security systems.

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Business Manager Rick Vensel said the school district's financial loss from the break-ins was $5,000 for its insurance deductible. The computers that have been recovered so far become the property of the insurance company, he said.

Superintendent Edwin Sponseller said the burglaries prompted the administration to recommend the schools be equipped with alarm systems.

On the morning of Jan. 5, Pennsylvania State Police in Cumberland County responded to a silent alarm at Monroe Elementary School in Boiling Springs, Pa. Police pursued three men seen driving away from the school and when the vehicle was stopped, the men fled on foot.

One of the men, Juan Carlos Samayoa, 25, of Chambersburg was shot twice by a trooper when he attempted to steal a police cruiser, police said. Two others, Troy Wenger Jr., 24, of Chambersburg, and Anthony Lee Wilson, 21, of Newville, Pa., also were taken into custody and all three have been charged in about a dozen school burglaries in Cumberland, Franklin and Huntingdon counties.

The capital improvement project list put the cost of a camera and alarm system at the middle school at about $125,000 and the total cost for the elementary schools and administrative building at approximately $120,000.

"The surveillance cameras are as much for operations as for after hours," said Richard Bender, the director of Buildings and Grounds. A system for the middle school might have 40 or more cameras to monitor the school during daytime, while the systems at the elementary schools would be much smaller, he said.

Contracts on the security systems could be awarded in May, Bender said. Once they are installed, he said, "all the buildings in the district will have some kind of security system."

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