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WAPELLO SCHOOLS

Wapello schools approve first reading of surveillance policy

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WAPELLO — The addition of 60 cameras and 14 multipurpose sensors for vaping detection to the Wapello School District’s original minimal system is leading to a new video surveillance policy.

The school board approved the first of two required readings of the new policy Tuesday at its regular monthly meeting. The second reading will be considered next month.

Superintendent Mike Peterson explained some of the key provisions of the policy for the board.

“Basically, it says we are not going to put cameras in any private areas. We are not going to put them in locker rooms or bathrooms or individual classrooms. They are going to be in common areas,” he advised the board.

According to the policy, no cameras will be located in places where “there is a reasonable expectation for privacy.”

Access to the recordings will also be limited.

“Not everybody has the right to view the (recording). Only people who have a need to know can do that,” Peterson explained.

Parents would have the right to view video but only the portions that would pertain to their child.

“It’s not open to everybody,” he emphasized.

He also covered other features of the system, including the length the videos would be retained, storage and monitoring and review of the system to ensure the policy and procedures are followed.

Board member Matt Smith wanted to make sure he understood the review provision.

“Tell me about that,” he asked Peterson, who assured him the review would be throughout the year and not a single event.

“(It is) making sure the people who are looking at the video are only the ones who have a need to do that,” he told the board.

Federal grant discussed

Meanwhile, the board also discussed the status of a federal grant application the school submitted earlier this year and that officials hope will eventually pay for the nearly $200,000 system.

Although the cost has already been paid through the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) Program, if the grant is awarded, district Business Manager Eric Small said the grant could repay the school’s ESSER account.

Officials said the school should know later in October about the grant.

The board also reviewed other previous ESSER spending and learned the district still had around $140,000 left to spend before September 30, 2024.

Peterson said at the request of board members he was researching the possibility of using some of the funding to install Univents in some classrooms. He said a neighboring school district was also looking into the units and had learned it could install units in 10 classrooms for about $46,000.

The board agreed to continue investigating, but several members indicated there was no rush to decide since the district still had nearly two years to spend the money.

Other action

The board also:

• Reviewed and approved several routine board policies.

• Agreed to purchase new wall mats for the main gym.

• Approved the purchase of a new 10-passenger van from Mincer Ford for $51,714.

• Approved several new hires.

Peterson also reported the student enrollment had grown by 15 students over last year’s enrollment, putting the current student population at 544. He cautioned the figure was not the official count, which is not taken until Oct. 1, but he welcomed the news, explaining it was only the second time since he had been in the district that he had not notified the board of an enrollment drop.

Peterson was hired in 2011.

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