SPRINGFIELD – The public schools district board approved security system upgrades at Riverbend and Mt. Vernon elementary schools to address the limitations of current technology in assisting with identifying people in unlawful behavior and improve student safety.

The proposal was submitted by chief operations officer Brett Yancey, who wrote, “Many of the existing security systems throughout the District were installed 20-plus years ago and are failing, or have failed and can no longer be serviced.

“Every time we have an incident at Riverbend we’re not able to pull camera footage or a camera wasn’t working or froze,” Yancey said while discussing the project at the April 12 board meeting. “Two summers ago we had three of four HVAC units vandalized, over $300,000 worth of damage.”

Yancey said it’s an ongoing challenge as the district also experiences a lot of graffiti, something the staff deals with first thing in the morning before the community can see “some of the absurdities.”

Riverbend Elementary’s security update will cost $113,408, and Mt. Vernon’s $109,281, which will add or replace interior and exterior cameras, and update its video monitoring system and appropriate building lockdown capabilities.

The proposal said Riverbend Elementary is the “most vandalized school in the District” and security upgrades will start there first. Mt. Vernon Elementary is next for security upgrades, as it is a “replicated design” of Riverbend Elementary and this similarity will reduce extra design fees with the security installation company, REECE Complete Security Solutions. 

System upgrades will begin later this month when students and staff are out of the building. The project is projected to be completed by July 1, officials said.