Saturday, December 12, 2009

Angeltrax Camera on School Buses in South Callaway School District

MOKANE - Bus drivers in the South Callaway School District will get some help keeping an eye on students come March.

The school board unanimously voted to install three security cameras in each of the district's 23 buses. Together, the tiny digital cameras will capture every action that goes on inside.

"It's got aspects to it so that we can be viewing the camera in the back and yet listening to what the kids are saying in the front," director of transportation Donnie DeBrodie said. "It shows the entire driver. That's what we're looking at."

Right now, the district is testing the system in one bus - Bus 9. One camera, just to the left of the drivers seat, will monitor students getting on and off, as well as the driver's actions. The two other cameras stationed in the front and back will see everything that goes on in the seats.

"If I get a phone call that a bus is speeding, we can look at that film. Any damage to the seats, [we'll go back to the cameras for] such things as that," DeBrodie said.

Drivers can press a button to mark footage if a conflict happens, which makes the incident more easy for the school district to find and view. That footage will also connect to a GPS system that tracks where the bus travels and what happens in it along the route.

The new cameras will save footage for three weeks, whereas the old single-camera VHS system deleted tape after six hours.

"Student safety and security is No. 1. We're all about students. We realized our security system on our buses was obsolete, and in many cases they failed," superintendent Mary Lynn Battles said.

"We've always had cameras on our school buses. It was the VHS system," DeBrodie said. "What we're doing with this is we're simply upgrading to a digital system. For safety, for training, it's just a better system all around."

It will cost $52,981 to equip all 23 of the district's buses.

"We have normally in the past several years replaced two or three buses. This year, we're replacing one bus, and the additional savings will go to support the security system," Battles said. "This system places our kids in a safer environment."