In a year when the Chicago Public School District is facing a $612 million deficit, officials are proposing pouring $7 million into a similar state-of-the-art security system at 14 other high schools. They say the expenditure is necessary because security is a top priority.

Footage from up to 80 high-definition cameras could be monitored by CPS and will be fed to a nearby police station, then linked into the citywide network of surveillance cameras. That network includes cameras operated by the Chicago Police Department, Office of Emergency Management and Communications and Chicago Transit Authority.

Images from the cameras can also be viewed on officials' cellphones.

"If the Chicago Police Department has installed cameras near the school, now we'll be able to view that," said Antonio Ruiz, deputy director of CPS' Office of Safety and Security. "We can watch the neighborhood, look for loitering. If there's a car going around the block, we can see that too. It's just more eyes on the street."

Officials are hoping the system's hookup to the citywide surveillance network will help students in Safe Passage programs, getting them to and from school in dangerous neighborhoods, says a Chicago Tribune report. They also hope that police-monitored cameras inside schools can deter crime.

At Fenger, more than three dozen cameras at entrances, hallways and outside the building allow school officials to zoom in and identify culprits. It also helped police arrest a suspect in several break-ins, the report says.

"It's played a part in changing the climate of the school," said Fenger Principal Elizabeth Ann Dozier. "Our incidents have absolutely gone down."

The Chicago Public Schools' current security camera system, introduced in 1999, has 7,000-plus analog cameras across 268 schools. At 365 schools, there are no security cameras. Two other high schools, Solorio and South Shore, already have received the new digital cameras, the report says.

If the cameras prove successful, they could eventually replace Chicago police officers stationed at some city high schools, the article says. CPS is surveying principals to see how many would support reducing police presence in schools. The Police Department charges the district $25 million a year for two police officers at each high school. But because the district hasn't paid the full amount in previous years, it will have to pay $70 million this year.