Creating a safe space for kids and community
Concordia Lutheran School keeps a protective eye over students, faculty, and organizations during school hours and while renting the property out after hours with AXIS Camera Station, megapixel cameras and audio-video intercom.
Concordia Lutheran School has been an integral part of the community since opening its doors in 1959. Located in a residential area of Peoria, Illinois, the school offers a Christian-centered, academically challenging education to students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Over the years, the parochial school has undergone several expansions to accommodate its growing student population. That expansion has also afforded the school more opportunities to generate revenue.
“We’re a private school that likes to open ourselves to the community,” explains Paul Thompson, Principal of Concordia Lutheran School. “We often allow local organizations like basketball leagues and neighborhood groups to rent out our gymnasium, commons (cafeteria), and outside grounds after school hours.”
Since the school doesn’t employ a security force, Concordia used to rely on their rental partners to monitor their own groups. This sometimes led to problems – school property gone missing or groups staying in the building beyond their rental agreement time.
Aware of the situation, Kern Group Security, a licensed custom security solutions provider and Axis partner, stepped in to offer the school a solution.
The Axis camera system has been a blessing for our school. Having that security in place really enhances our ability to open our gym to the community and use it to its fullest potential.
Designing comprehensive 24/7 coverage
Using AXIS Site Designer software, Kern mapped out a surveillance system that would enable Concordia staff to monitor and record activity in and around the school 24/7. At the core of the solution is the AXIS Camera Station that controls a dozen megapixel and HDTV-resolution Axis cameras strategically placed in and around the property. With the addition of AXIS Camera Station Secure Entry, the end-to-end video management system is transformed into an all-in-one video and access control management system.
The cameras operate on motion detection, recording activity, and triggering alerts to staff when events occur outside expected hours. An AXIS Video Decoder enables all the camera feeds to simultaneously display on a large screen monitor in the school office.
“AXIS Site Designer software helped us decide which cameras would give us the best coverage in each location,” explains Greg Kern, Managing Partner and Project Manager for Kern Group Security. “For instance, we installed an AXIS M30 Series camera in the largest gym because it provides a 360-degree view of the area. In the smaller gym, a 180o view was sufficient so we went with an AXIS P38 Series camera.”
Kern also installed an Axis network video intercom at the front door to alert staff to someone requesting entry into the building. This solution helps establish a secure single point of entry, further enhancing the safety and security of the school. Because the alert can be sent to a cellphone using a mobile application, staff is no longer limited to their desks awaiting visitors. Any authorized personnel can see who’s at the entrance and unlock the door remotely from their smartphones.
Keeping closer tabs on renters
“Having the new camera system in place is helping me better supervise rental groups,” shares Paul Thompson. “In the past, I’d receive reports of people using the facility outside their agreed upon time. But without video to back it up, there wasn’t much I could do about it.”
When a group rents space in the school after hours, they are loaned a physical key that opens the main door and allows them access to the specific area under contract. But once they have the key in hand, the school relies on the honor system that the group won’t use the key to come into the building before their allotted time or after their rental period expires.
“Now I can monitor the cameras and confirm that the renters are adhering to the terms of the contract,” explains Thompson. “And if there are any infractions, or school property goes missing, I have the camera footage as indisputable evidence.”
Thompson says having the surveillance cameras actively watching the property isn’t just about his peace of mind. The system also makes renters feel safer about being in the building at night.
Protecting students and faculty
While incidents at the school have been minimal, Thompson says having the camera footage helps him quickly get to the root of student misbehavior and conflicts. “Cameras make great eyewitnesses,” states Thompson. “With them in place, we’ve pretty much eliminated denials and finger pointing.”
Thompson also notes that installing AXIS Camera Station is giving parents an added sense of ease that the school is providing a safer and more secure environment for their children.
Faculty safety and security is another area where Thompson feels the cameras have been a real asset. “We sometimes have teachers who stay late into the evening to grade papers and prepare lesson plans for the next day,” shares Thompson. “If they hear a noise that makes them concerned about exiting the building after dark, they can always call me. Then I can look at all the camera views to make sure the area is safe. I think our teachers find it comforting.”
Thompson says he was very impressed with the clarity of the cameras, especially at night. With the cameras’ responsive Lightfinder and OptimizedIR features he’s able to zoom in and read the license plate off a teacher’s car with no problem. “I never imagined being able to get the coverage we have and such amazingly clear images,” asserts Thompson.
Continuing to enhance school security
Thompson looks forward to eventually augmenting security in the school’s largest gym with an Axis horn speaker. This would allow him to instantly communicate with anyone in the room. “Integrating a horn speaker into the networked system gives the principal an option to talk directly to the renters if he sees a problem,” explains Scott Kern, Managing Partner for Kern Group Security. “Or, if it’s an intruder, we can program the system for him to automatically broadcast a pre-recorded warning to vacate the building or other message – like the police have been notified and they’re on their way.”
Thompson would also like to upgrade their credentials in AXIS Camera Station Secure Entry to a keyless entry system. “If we can provide faculty and staff with PIN codes and issue renters temporary PINs that only work for the duration of their contracts,” states Thompson, “We can avoid the security risk of lost keys and the cost of replacing metal keys or rekeying doors.”