CPS Announces Plan to Expand Cameras for Districts Schools
22 February 2023
Initiative Builds Upon Investments in Student Safety and Wellness
CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools today announced a bold three-year security camera investment plan as a critical part of CPS’ comprehensive safety initiatives. The $76.3 million investment, announced Wednesday morning at Eli Whitney Elementary School, calls for adding cameras to existing schools and updating systems that currently have outdated equipment in an effort to ensure that all District schools have state-of-the-art cameras to support the safety of students and staff.
“As a District, we remain committed to investing in the resources and strategies that support the safety and security of our students and staff, “ said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “Our camera systems are just one tool but they consistently prove valuable for deterring and resolving crime.”
The CPS security camera systems are thoughtfully designed to give school security staff better visibility across areas of the school throughout the day. Also, in the event of an incident, cameras can help staff respond to situations promptly and captured footage can also be used for evidentiary purposes in investigations.
“We are excited to make this investment as well as the many ongoing social emotional supports that aim to address the root of behavioral issues,” said CPS Safety and Security Chief Jadine Chou. “We know that it requires a holistic approach to bolster safety in our schools and that work continues as we install new cameras.”
The District is prioritizing cameras for schools based on a scoring model that considers the following criteria: current camera condition, number of safety incidents taking place at the school, number of criminal incidents taking place in the vicinity of the school, the CPS Equity Opportunity Index and school enrollment. CPS schools with up-to-date systems will not be included in this program.
The implementation will be a phased-in approach across three years:
FY23: Phase 1 investment is $13.5M and consists of 63 schools (58 ES and 5 HS); expected to be completed during the summer 2023.
FY24: Phase 2 investment is $30.9M and consists of 135 schools (120 ES and 15 HS); installation will take place September 2023 - August 2024
FY25: Phase 3 investment is $31.9M and consists of 133 schools (122 ES and 11 HS); installation will take place September 2024 - August 2025
This is the District’s latest investment to strengthen the safety and security of students. At Eli Whitney, the installation of their new security cameras was completed in December, 2023, providing security staff the ability to monitor indoor and outdoor activities.
“School safety is our top priority,” said Principal Evelia Diaz of Whitney Elementary. "Since installing our cameras, our school community has felt an increased peace of mind in knowing that we have another tool to keep students and staff safe.”
In addition, CPS oversees a number of initiatives, programs and services related to safety and security as well as students’ emotional safety and well-being.
Safety and Security Investments
Whole School Safety Initiative: Each year, the District reinvests an approximate $3.3 million towards proactive safety resources such as restorative justice coordinators, climate coordinators, and more.
Safe Passage Program: Through the Safe Passage program, trained professionals help steer students away from dangerous situations and help them get to-and-from school safely. CPS will invest $22 million in the program in SY23, including $1.5 million to engage Safe Passage staffers to support CPS Summer Programs and Chicago Park District programming so students can continue to have safe access to activities while out of school.
School Security Resources: The SY23 budget contains $8 million — for important safety technology equipment to support students’ physical safety on school grounds.
Choose to Change: The District will continue to invest in and expand access to the Choose to Change initiative with $9.2 million in additional funds in SY23. Choose to Change is an evidence-based mentoring program designed to keep young people who are heavily impacted by violence and trauma on track to graduate from high school and stay out of the criminal justice system. This program connects these students with intensive advocate and wraparound supports, as well as trauma-informed therapy to help them live safe and successful lives. This program has been shown to reduce the likelihood of arrests for violent crime by nearly 50 percent, reduce the likelihood of in-school misconducts by 33 percent, and increase school attendance by a full week per year on average.
“Back to Our Future” Initiative: With a planned investment of $18 million CPS is piloting a new high-touch (or intense) intervention model for up to 1000 youth who have been disconnected from school for at least 12-18 months. CPS is partnering with community-based organizations and the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Education Lab to conduct extensive outreach to engage these hardest-to-reach students and provide comprehensive behavioral health services, mentoring and employment opportunities, and other supports to help students safely reconnect with their school communities.
Social-Emotional Support and Services
CPS is committed to providing robust social-emotional learning and engagement opportunities for all students from pre-K through high school, including mental health services and wraparound supports for those who are struggling.
The District’s SY23 budget builds upon this work, with $30 million in District-funded investments to support school-level programming. This adds the staffing and resources needed to foster positive school and classroom climate, trauma-engaged practices and restorative approaches to discipline, as well as other social and emotional skills instruction. Specific investments include:
SEL curriculum: $5 million in new funding to support the implementation of a universal SEL curriculum for all elementary schools that includes bullying prevention and other key tactics
Social workers: $5 million in additional funding for social workers to support students’ social and emotional wellbeing on a case-by-case basis.
Counselor positions: $6 million to fund additional (second) counselor positions for 53 schools that need them most, based on the District’s Opportunity Index and Violence Index, which help to measure the level of risk to students based on community.
Mentorship and mental health supports and partnerships: $13 million for mentorship and mental health supports from highly qualified providers to provide school-level and regional services for students, as well as to expand the District’s partnership with the Center for Childhood Resilience at Lurie Children's Hospital, DePaul University, and other partners and vendors in this important work.
Support for Students in Temporary Living Situations (STLS): $2 million to fund more support staff for Students in Temporary Living Situations (STLS), including counselors and bilingual education coordinators. These professionals will ensure that 35 schools will have full-time advocates and all other CPS schools will have one or more part-time liaisons to work with these students and their families.
Student Re-Engagement: $12 million to increase enrollment and attendance, which have been impacted by the pandemic. CPS is investing resources in student re-engagement and truancy prevention — including home visits and other forms of direct contact — to bring eligible students back into the classroom.
At the beginning of the current school year, CPS announced that it overhauled its Safety and Security website cps.edu/safetyandsecurity to include helpful tools, including new videos, and resources for families to provide a more in-depth view of school safety in CPS. The District also created new safety training drills and videos for educators and staff.
CPS asks parents to partner with the District by alerting the student’s school, or to the CPS Student Safety Center at email@example.com as soon as possible, and with as much detail as possible, about a safety concern or issue.
About Chicago Public Schools
Chicago Public Schools serves more than 322,000 students in 635 schools. It is the nation’s fourth-largest school district.