As board president of District 97, let me clear up a mistake in last week’s article. [Smile kids: Cameras set for jr. highs, News, Dec. 9]

We did not approve the installation of cameras in our two middle schools at our meeting on Dec. 15. The board was clear in accepting the staff’s recommendation that a policy regarding the use of any cameras be drafted and approved by the board prior to revisiting this agenda item.

We are currently reviewing policies from other Illinois districts, including District 200, as well as sample language provided by our legal service. Once our policy is drafted, we will seek community input before adoption. This process will likely extend through January.

As a board member, I support our staff’s recommendation to install cameras in the public spaces of our middle schools. We’ve had multiple instances where our administration has taken many hours to investigate incidents of alleged theft and misbehavior. Additionally, we’ve had thefts of equipment take place outside of the normal school day.

Given our budget constraints, we cannot afford additional public-safety staff. We are already discussing the budget impact of the proposal to transfer school resource officers from the Village of Oak Park to District 97.

The installation of cameras will not prevent every incident, but it will provide one more cost-efficient tool for the management of the safety of our children and staff.

Peter Traczyk
Oak Park
District 97 Board of Education president

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