School board votes down bus cameras recommendation
The USD 348 Board of Education voted down a surveillance system for the district's fleet of buses, despite approving the financial method to pay for the cameras shortly beforehand during Monday's meeting.
Board President Ande Parks made the motion to approve a camera surveillance system for $20,048, which would be paid out of the district's Capital Outlay fund. School Board Member Bill Busby seconded the motion.
Parks, Busby and School Board Member Nick Harris voted to approve the system. However, School Board Members Ruth Barkley, Sandy Chapman, Chad Christie and Tony Wedel opposed the motion.
“I've had phone calls on this and it's not been what I thought,” Christie said. “They're against this, just from a standpoint of spending money. I don't think anybody thinks it's a bad idea. I personally think it's wonderful. However, like most people, I wonder if we have to have it.”
Parks shared a different opinion.
“I understand, but to me, it's not about the cost,” Parks said. “It's about the liability if something were to happen.”
Twenty minutes before voting down the motion, the school board approved the district's 2011-2012 Capital Outlay budget with a 5-2 vote. Barkley and Chapman opposed to motion. Part of that nearly half-million dollar budget is the surveillance system, which would have added camera systems on 16 buses.
USD 348 Transportation Director Tracy Rockers was at the meeting Monday. She was asked by the board if it was possible to just install cameras on a few of the buses routes with more problems.
“Baldwin is becoming more of a transient community,” Rockers said. “We are having more people move in. One of the routes was my best last year and this year it has the most problems. I get bus changes almost daily. There seems to be more people moving from the city to the country. I think there are more rental houses in the country than there ever was before. We have quite a few changes weekly.
“But I couldn't in all good faith say let's pick these and separate these routes from these others, because that doesn't mean the riders on those routes might not change next week,” she said. “So, you either do it or don't. I don't think it would be fair to single out routes. I think we would get flack from the community if there was ever an incident on a bus that didn't have a monitor and something really happened. That parent is going to be livid that we have monitors on other buses, but not their kid's bus.”
Rockers and Dorathy informed the school board last month about some behavior issues that have come up on the buses this school year. Rockers recommended the camera system at the November school board meeting. She also talked to the board on Monday about the system and why she made the recommendation.
“For years, I was guilty of making Baldwin a bedroom community,” Rockers said. “I got up, went to work in Kansas City and came home. Over the last year, I have been shocked what goes on in this community sometimes. A year ago, I would have been against it, because of the funding. Today, $20,000 seems like a penny compared to a lawsuit.”