MATTOON -- The high school, along with the rest of the school district, might see some security improvements after the school board meeting today.

The school district is looking to get an additional school resource officer for Mattoon schools. Only one resource officer, Kasey Alexander, currently patrols the school campuses across the city.

While he covers the district, Alexander is largely based out of the high school, Mattoon Superintendent Larry Lilly said. Covering an entire school system has divided Alexander’s time though, Lilly noted, prompting the need for a second resource officer.

The school board will vote on an agreement with the City of Mattoon to potentially start the process to hire the officer at their meeting at 7 p.m. today in the administrative building.

Since the late 90’s, the school district has had a resource officer in the schools. With the addition of another, there would likely be an officer covering the east side schools while another covers the west side schools, Lilly said.

Should the board approve the agreement, the Mattoon City Council will then need to O.K. the potential hire. The city would be in charge of the hiring for the position. Lilly said he hopes to have an officer on staff sometime during the next school semester, should the hire be allowed.

The high school’s security camera system is expected to get an overhaul as well. Todd Ratliff, Total Home & Farm Video Solutions of Mattoon owner, is willing to donate a “state-of-the-art” security camera system to the high school with the help of Panasonic and Razberi.

Panasonic would donate 60 cameras to the school. Razberi would donate three servers with 32 terabytes of storage. And Ratliff’s business would donate the wiring, switches and other assorted things needed for the system.

Ratliff said he was inspired to help bolster the school’s camera system after the school shooting Sept. 20. Ratliff recalled being in his office with representatives of Panasonic and Razberi a day after the shooting, and they decided together to donate a camera system to the school.

“It is the right thing to do,” Ratliff said. “We are in a position where we can help so we did.”

The board will need to take board action to accept the donation at the meeting.

Currently, the school has only 12 cameras that predominantly cover the inside of the school, Lilly said. The new cameras would allow the school to cover pretty much every part of the campus, both inside and out.

Ratliff said the current system is antiquated and not as functional as the new system that he described as “top of the line.” Lilly said the system would hopefully get set up over Christmas break.

“We appreciate the coordination of the offer,” Lilly said of the donation.



Jarad Jarmon is a reporter for the JG-TC. He covers the city of Charleston, Eastern Illinois University, Mattoon schools and the Regional Office of Education.

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