Security to be cut in half

The Oakland Unified School District has decided to layoff 28 School Security Officers (SSOs) from schools all over the district next year and will use $3 million in new cameras to try to keep schools safe.

At Fremont Federation of High Schools that means that the eight-member SSO staff will be cut to four. However, only three of those officers will walk the campus and interact with students. The other will always be in the camera room watching surveillance video.

Fremont received 17 new cameras this year under a $3 million district program. The campus already had 32 working cameras.

Tiffany Couch said she is one of the SSOs who has lost her job for next year, but the others said they wish to remain anonymous.

Carlton Johnson, an SSO who will keep his job at Fremont, believes that there is going to be a big change with the cameras.

“We have to work with what we got,” he said.

But Claudette Ziegler, another SSO, thinks differently.

“Cameras can’t do nothing but see. Alive people [can] do something about what’s going on,” said Ziegler.

Teryl McGriff, campus manager and head of the SSOs whose position will be cut at the end of this year, believes the cameras will have a positive effect.

“The more you can see, the more you can know how to respond, and we [can] see a lot more in the cameras,” said McGriff, “We want the school to be calm; we try to prevent danger.”

Couch feels disappointed about losing her job, but says there is a chance she will get an SSO job back because the district has put the laid off workers on a special rehire status for 39 months.

Couch feels there’s a good chance the state government will release more money toschools more money if students improve academically.

“We hope students take this information and begin to focus on what’s important, which [is] school and their future,” said Couch.

Some students believe that it is better to have more SSOs than more cameras.

“Cameras aren’t going to do anything, but securities could stop a fight quickly,” said Claudia Alvarez, an 11th grader at Media Academy.

Juan Martinez, a junior at Mandela Academy, agrees.

“Securities are better because they are faster to stop a fight or something,” he said.

Others believe that cameras are better than SSOs.

“We should have more cameras instead of securities because they don’t really pay attention unless we aren’t going to class or something else,” said Jonesha Sanders, a 10th grader at Media Academy.