Napa’s two largest public high schools will be increasing security this fall to help prevent vandalism and other crimes on campus.

Napa and Vintage high schools will each be getting 55 to 60 security cameras that will cover outdoor areas as well as interior hallways, gymnasiums, cafeterias and other areas prone to vandalism, said Don Evans, director of school planning and construction.

The installation is scheduled to begin by early September, and should be completed by winter recess, he said.

On Thursday, the Board of Education awarded a $470,256 contract to Convergint Technologies out of Hayward to provide the cameras at both high schools. Funding is being provided from Measure G, the 2006 bond measure that raised $183 million to improve facilities in the Napa Valley Unified School District.

“Vandalism is a very expensive item within the maintenance budget, and in some cases it results in our having to shut down portions of the school, such as the restroom,” Evans said.

School district employees spend about 20 hours per week just dealing with graffiti, said Walt Blevins, school district supervisor of maintenance and construction.

A similar security system has been operating at American Canyon High School since the school opened one year ago. American Canyon has 76 cameras located in the same areas proposed for Napa and Vintage.

All of the cameras are in color, and some have high-definition and zoom capabilities, Principal Mark Brewer said.

When crime occurs, “We typically find who did it within an hour or so,” he said.

Last year, American Canyon had three incidents of graffiti, and one of those incidents was committed by an American Canyon student, Brewer said.

“(The cameras) are really good for safety, and it’s a great deterrent,” he said.

The system at American Canyon cost about $600,000. This included the cameras and a card-lock security system for many of the doors. The cost for Napa and Vintage is lower because the schools are  getting only the cameras. Both high schools already have security systems for the doors, Evans said.

Brewer said he had heard from a few parents at American Canyon who were worried the cameras might be installed in private areas, like restrooms or locker rooms, but the cameras are not in those areas.

The locations for the cameras at Napa and Vintage were determined after consulting with the school resource officers, deans and principals, Evans said.

Cameras will not be installed in classrooms, restrooms or locker rooms, he said. Cameras will be located outside in the corridors near the entrances to those areas, because restrooms and locker rooms are prone to vandalism, Evans said.

“The cameras will allow us to know who went in the restrooms at the approximate time that the vandalism might have occurred,” Evans said.

Brewer said the cameras are strictly limited to public areas.

“We don’t film kids in private,” Brewer said. “All we do is see children coming in and out of the door.”

Evans said he credits the cameras for the minimal vandalism at American Canyon. Knowing the cameras are in operation deters many students from committing offenses, he said.

“It makes our job so much more efficient,” Brewer said. “And it creates a much safer environment.”