School buses to be equipped with cameras Carroll Co. also seeks cell phones for emergencies

October 09, 1997|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Carroll school bus drivers soon will be getting the high-tech equivalent of eyes in the backs of their heads.

This fall, the Carroll County school system will install a video camera box on each of the 300 buses that transport students.

And within a few months, each bus could also have a cellular phone, to be used only for emergencies or when a bus is running late, but not when the bus is in motion.

The cell phone proposal is contingent on approval by the school board and County Commissioners next month. The video equipment already has been purchased.

To save money, the schools bought only 28 video cameras, which will be rotated among the buses randomly, or when a driver requests it to film misbehaving students, said Vernon Smith, director of school support services.

"All the boxes look the same, and all the boxes look like they're in operation," Smith said. "If a driver has a problem with a group of students, she can request that a camera be placed in the box."

School officials hope the possibility of a working camera will deter bad behavior, Smith said. The boxes will be in a front corner of the bus, recording the driver and students.

The total cost for the boxes and cameras was $30,600. The schools are waiting to receive bids for installing the equipment.

In 1995, an independent auditing company recommended that Carroll schools equip all buses with either a cell phone or a two-way radio.

Smith said that after a meeting of bus contractors and school transportation staff, the consensus was to put cell phones on all buses rather than start a widespread two-way radio system. The school system would essentially reimburse the contractors for providing cell phones on the buses.

Pub Date: 10/09/97

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