Farmington School Board Approves Security Camera System

FARMINGTON — All five Farmington school campuses will have new security cameras next year that will record around the clock, have additional storage capacity and facial recognition capabilities, and will be much easier for staff to use , according to school officials.

The Farmington School Board on June 27 approved a recommendation from Jarod Morrison, director of technology and maintenance, and Superintendent Jon Laffoon for a five-year, $404,145 contract with GHA Technologies Inc. of Phoenix for 180 cameras Verkada and 16 environmental sensors.

Morrison said the district will use its federal covid money to put a $100,000 down payment on the contract and pay off the balance over five years with 0% financing, or about $60,000 a year. At the end of the period, the district will own the cameras and sensors.

The new system will be web-based and all recordings will be stored online in the cloud.

“We wanted to use them five years ago, but didn’t because of the cost,” Morrison said.

Cameras with the current system only start recording when they detect motion, and cameras don’t always record a complete incident, Morrison said. The current system has limited storage, uses district servers and has had many issues, Morrison told council members.

The contract with GHA Technologies indicates that the district will purchase 74 outdoor cameras and 106 indoor cameras. The equipment will have a 10 year warranty.

Morrison said the environmental sensors will detect vaping and smoking, and some of them will be placed inside middle and high school bathrooms. The sensors will also monitor changes in physical spaces and measure air quality, temperature, humidity, movement and noise.

As an example of how the new system will help the district, Morrison said staff can search for a specific person or vehicle and the system will show where that person or vehicle appears on all cameras. The new system will also allow staff to respond quickly to incidents or situations, he added.

The district may add cameras in the future or relocate the cameras as needed, according to Morrison.

Board member Amy Hill said she supported the purchase of the new cameras.

“Early access to what’s going on is invaluable,” Hill said. “You can’t put a dollar amount on that.”

Board members drew lots to determine their current term at the start of the meeting. With the May 24 school election, the school board changed from a general council to a council whose members are elected by zone.

Term prizes were drawn so that only one position was up for election each year. In subsequent elections, candidates will stand for five-year terms.

The initial terms of council members will be Zone 1, Josh Petree, one year; Zone 2, Travis Warren, two; Zone 3, Amy Hill, four; Zone 4, Lori Blew, five; and Zone 5, Mark Vaughn, three.

The board voted to retain Warren as board chairman for the next year and voted for Hill as vice-chairman and Blew as secretary.

In addition, the board approved its annual Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Farmington for two School Resource Officers. The school pays 50% of an officer’s salary and 80% of a second officer’s salary.

Laffoon said school officials are discussing additional officers, but no decision has been made.

He also approved a memorandum of understanding with the Arkansas River Educational Services Cooperative to provide a virtual school for the next school year for three students for $2,000 per student. Laffoon said the Northwestern Arkansas Education Department is not offering a virtual program for the 2022-23 school year. Three students in kindergarten through sixth grade want to attend school virtually next year, rather than in person, Laffoon said.

Additionally, the board approved a recommendation to purchase two servers from Howard Technology Solutions of Laurel, Miss., for $23,238 and renewed a lease with Simply + Sweet Holdings LLC to allow it to use the kitchen of the former Ledbetter Intermediate School for $400 a month to run an ice cream business. The company is required to maintain general liability insurance for the duration of the contract. Warren, whose son is one of the owners of Simply + Sweet, abstained from voting on the matter.

The council gave the go-ahead for Laffoon to go ahead with selling 2.25 acres next to Williams Elementary to the City of Farmington. The city approached the school to purchase the land. Laffoon said he would have the land appraised.

Laffoon did not have any new information about the lands the district is interested in as a possible location for a new school building. The property, owned by Riggins Construction, is on the corner of Arkansas 170 and Clyde Carnes Road.

The board accepted the resignations of teachers Shannon Deputy, Bailey Anderson and Rebecca Prince. He approved the hiring of professors Autumn Pense, Peyton Wright, Chanly Young, Ryan Finley and Shelby Sanders.

The board also approved a recommendation from Laffoon to add an additional year to the contracts of assistant superintendents Joe McClung and Stephanie Pinkerton. They will now have two-year contracts with the district, instead of one-year contracts.

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