Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2011

Video cameras recommended for school district buses

December 15, 2011

Recent incidences this school year have forced Tracy Rockers to recommend installing video cameras on all Baldwin School District school buses.

Rockers, USD 348 director of transportation, made the recommendation at the Nov. meeting, but the item was tabled until the next month. On Monday night, the USD 348 Board of Education will once again be discussing Rockers' recommendation and possibly voting on the issue.

“Bus safety is the number one concern for the transportation drivers,” Rockers said. “They want to get the kids to and from school safely. It's going to be used a tool to enhance that efficiency. Hopefully, it will help everybody.

“By using it as a tool, we're going to help prevent issues, but also have it in case something happens,” she said. “Getting it now, instead of waiting until something really happens, will help us use it a preventative tool.”

Rockers wouldn't discuss specific details about the system she recommended, but she did say it would be installed on every bus. She also said each camera would be equipped with SD memory cards that she can pull out and plug into her computer to watch videos.

“I will go pull the SD cards out of the camera and pop them in my computer,” Rockers said. “It will be used strictly by myself and the administrators. It will be used for our review, if need be.”

Rockers said Baldwin is one of only a few school districts in the area that doesn't have surveillance on its fleet of buses. She took over as director of transportation last year and since taking over she's trying to stay ahead of potential problems that could arise on the buses.

“One of my goals is to be proactive, instead of reactive,” Rockers said. “I've been busy throughout this first year, so everything has felt like it's more reactive. This will be my first big step on being proactive on issues that may arise.

“I want the drivers to be watching the road at all times, not the kids behind them,” she said. “This is one way to do that. It's a good tool for the drivers.”

At the November school baord meeting, Superintendent Paul Dorathy said the district has zero cameras on its buses and should look into purchasing some because of recent incidences. He said many of those come down to a “he said, she said” situation and currently there is no way to prove innocence or guiltiness by either party involved.

The school board meeting starts at 6:30 p.m., but the regular sesssion won't begin until 7 p.m. The bus cameras will be early in the meeting, during the financial report.


hyperinflate 6 years, 5 months ago

Hell yeah! Buy 'em. Actually, buy two or three for each bus. Make sure they're 3D and thermal cameras while you're at it. No reason to have it simply write to a memory chip. Stream it live back to an Operations Center back at the bus barn! Make sure to staff the Operations Center with at least two folks at all times, in case one is otherwise occupied making coffee.

Oh, and make sure to have a coffee grinder and one of those ultra-fancy coffee urns because the online monitoring folks need to be as alert as possible. And make sure they have the Herman Miller Aeron chairs (in true black, of course) because although they need to be hyper-vigilant, they need to be comfortable also. Let's get the lighting correct also. None of those standard, vanilla fluorescent tubes. No, it's daytime-aware LEDs all around.

Is it just a dream that we could, for once, PROPERLY equip the district to do its job? No, this is soon to become reality thanks to "the Guv" Sam Brownback and Madam Gregory. Oh, the possibilities!


Goldie 6 years, 5 months ago

Those cameras are not being installed because the kids are acting like angels. Bullying and fighting are just 2 instances I know of that occurr on a regular basis. Get off the liberal caffine buzz and join reality.


1776attorney 6 years, 5 months ago

While I might agree that bus cameras are a good idea, and I commend Tracy for being pro-active in this area, what is it with this school district that they feel the taxpayers, in the middle of an economic depression, where the line to the food bank is 1/2 a block long every week, are an endless source of funding for all sorts of frivolous school district toys?

The idea is good, the timing is bad.

This school board, and especially the past board, live in some kind of sheltered little cocoon oblivious to the real world around them.

In better economic times, go for the cameras and I-Pads, when 1 out of 5 poeple are unemployed or under-employed, you downsize or economize to adjust to the real world.

That is wise, professional business management and your fudiciary responsibility to taxpayers and citizens.


Bloggerboo 6 years, 5 months ago

Did nobody notice the part about being one of only a very few districts that do not have these installed? I suppose something tragic happening and then a subsequent lawsuit would be a better outcome for you both. Something like is just like buying insurance. It protects kids, drivers, and the district. Money well spent, if you ask me.


hyperinflate 6 years, 5 months ago

There was never an item that crossed your desk when you swung the gavel that you didn't think was money well spent. I doubt others will find your opinion very credible on this point.


mellowyellow 6 years, 5 months ago

I think the cameras are a good plan. If you talk to the other school districts you will hear that even with video evidence, the parents will still say "that's not my child" when clearly it is. The state of society........


1776attorney 6 years, 5 months ago

Bloggerboo, while I appreciate your comment, it's irrelevant what "other" school districts have or want. Johnson County schools have indoor swimming pools and equestrian tracks. Does that mean Baldwin City must have these also?

Kansas City, Missouri schools had grand arts, science, ethnic, etc. themed schools at over a $1 billion cost (thrust on them by a Federal Judge and mismanaged by local school boards) and we see where this got their kids. The school district is bankrupt and the students are under-educated.

I am not adverse to bus cameras. What I am against is the wild, uncontrolled, unwise spending that your school board and the current school board engages in. With the last election for school board we thought we were eliminating these kind of actions and installing wiser and more thoughtful board members. The book is still to be written on them.

There is no cost savings to taxpayers by installing bus cameras. The school district will always pay for insurance (with or without cameras) that would cover legal costs of any incident against the schools, or would pursue against a student / parents.

The cost of bus cameras is all out of pocket expenses. Now, a good argument could be made that for disciplinary purposes the cameras do not lie. That is not flawed reasoning. I agree.

What I do disagree with is that taxpayers should be once again stuck with another school district "toy" when the economy is in a technical depression, 1 in 5 income earners is unemployed or under-employed and taxpayers are already stuck with higher property taxes from the new school bond issue.

The fact that the school district continues to spend like a rich robber baron while the taxpayers are struggling to survive shows how out of touch and oblivious the school administration and school board is.

Wisdom would dictate that while bus cameras are a good idea, they should be pursued AFTER the economy recovers and families are not struggling to survive.


Bloggerboo 6 years, 5 months ago

Just so that no one ever accuses me of impersonating someone else on the internet, I will tell you all now, despite what hyperBS says, I am not a former member of the school board, nor a current member. I am simply a concerned parent in this district.

I would tend to agree with you for the most part, attorney, on this issue so long as you agree that at some point these types of cameras would be a beneficial tool to the district. I wasn't arguing for a rushed purchase, if I made it sound that way. They are not just a toy, however.


1776attorney 6 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for the clarification and comment.


Torch 6 years, 5 months ago

Cameras in the classroom would be a better idea - streaming video online so parents can actually see what's going on in the classroom.

That would potentially help children behave better - never knowing when they're being checked on by parents - but it would also allow a better evaluation of the teaching skills we're paying for.

Oh - the teacher's union would have a cow - they don't want accountability, but I think it would go a long way towards making sure we get what we pay for as well as giving teachers something to show parents when there is a discussion about behavior.

I believe I read somewhere that they are doing this already in some places.


hyperinflate 6 years, 5 months ago

Oh absolutely! We should definitely do this as well. That's what is so wonderful about Sam "Jesus" Brownback's proposed approach to letting the local School Board set the tax rate to as high as they want it. Finally they can do things right, instead of being forced to just barely scrape by like they have all these years. The children can FINALLY get the education they deserve!


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