LEWISTON — School Committee members voted at Monday’s meeting to have cameras, detectors and sensors placed in city schools to better monitor and deter student vaping and other unsafe behavior.

The School Department has been working to place cameras in city schools since before the pandemic, Superintendent Jake Langlais said, adding that the current camera systems have become antiquated. There are also occupancy concerns in school bathrooms because of medical emergencies or drug overdoses.

The new camera technology will tag people in a video, following them into a different area of the school, allowing school administrators to follow a situation better on video, he said. Camera quality now is starting to exceed what the human eye can detect.

The bathroom sensors will be beneficial in the high school bathrooms where vaping and fighting tend to occur, Information Technology Director Marc Rocque said. The sensors can detect occupancy and students vaping, smoking or fighting.

The sensors do not record sound or video, rather they alert administrators to activity occurring in the space at that time, he said. There will be a hierarchy set up regarding which administrators get alerts for which types of detections.

The technology will be installed in the Dingley Building, Longley School and McMahon, Connors and Farwell elementary schools, Rocque said, which seem to have the oldest monitoring systems. There will be full coverage on school exteriors, hallways and entrances. The high school and the middle school will be the only schools with vaping sensors. Rocque said he would like to have the technology installed in these schools by next August.

Some of the schools’ current network infrastructure will be able to be reused to install the new technology, he said.

The total estimated cost of the upgrades and new equipment is $409,442.09, Langlais said. It is his preference to use funding available to the school department first, raising only the remainder of the cost from taxpayers.

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