Portage Park School to get security cameras
by BRIAN NADIG
Up to $55,000 in tax increment financing funds is being allocated for the purchase of security cameras at Portage Park School, 5330 W. Berteau Ave., according to Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th).
The 16 cameras should be installed by the start of next school year, with the final cost estimated to be between $45,000 and $55,000, Sposato said. Initial plans had called for the Chicago Public Schools to pay half the expense and the other half using the ward’s discretionary funds. Sposato said that TIF funds were later identified for the entire project.
Sposato and 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District commander William Looney recently met with school officials to discuss crime and other concerns regarding the school’s campus, which is located across from Portage Park, 4100 N. Long Ave.
Portage Park School principal Maureen Ready said that liquor and beer bottles, needles and condoms have to be picked up from around the school in the mornings on a regular basis.
"We are near a park, and there are a lot of kids here hanging out (at night)," Ready said. She added that no trespassing signs are posted on school grounds in an effort to prevent late-night loitering, but that the signs are not effective.
The cameras are intended to deter criminal behavior outside of the building and to improve security inside, with 10 cameras planned for outside and six in the hallways, Ready said.
It is believed that this will mark the first time the school has had surveillance cameras, Ready said. A buzzer system was installed at the main entrance when Ready became principal 6 years ago, as previously the door was unlocked and visitors could walk right in, she said.