"The contractual agreement between City Schools and the private bus companies should include an agreement to report on speed camera tickets," the board said in a statement. "We urge City Schools to expedite the process of inclusion of this reporting in these agreements for the safety of all involved, especially our children."
"We are quite concerned as our children receiving bus service are typically the city's most vulnerable student populations," the statement added.
A camera overlooking a stretch of Greenspring Avenue near Kennedy Krieger High School, which serves special education students, has recorded 57 school buses speeding, most in the city. Tops in Baltimore County was the camera at 3800 Washington Ave., site of Milford Mill Academy, with 22.
The city and Baltimore County have the largest speed camera programs in the region. Howard County has a smaller program, with two cameras, while Carroll, Harford and Anne Arundel counties don't have automated speed camera devices. Unlike the city and the county, Howard refused to provide citation data containing license tag numbers, claiming that state law forbids it.
"Student safety is paramount and the district's position is that speeding is not acceptable under any circumstance," the city school district said in its statement, issued by spokeswoman Edie House-Foster. "Our expectation is that vendors take traffic violations in school zones with utmost seriousness."
City school officials said buses contracted or owned by the system made more than 800 trips a day last year, logging some 23,000 miles each day.
All district employees are required to pay traffic tickets and to show proof to their supervisors. Yet in "limited instances," officials say, the system has had to pay tickets incurred by workers whose employment ended with tickets unpaid. The district paid Baltimore County $280 to satisfy seven tickets that one employee got while driving the school police Jeep Liberty on Putty Hill Avenue.
As of last month, the district said it had 67 unpaid tickets, a figure that encompasses all system-owned vehicles and not just buses.
In Baltimore County, records show county buses have gotten at least 117 speed camera tickets. School board president Lawrence Schmidt said he was unaware of that.
"Obviously the Board of Education doesn't want our bus drivers speeding, whether they have children or don't have children," he said.
He said the number of tickets should be viewed in the context of how many miles county school buses travel. According to the district, its buses log 1,933 trips a day covering 80,294 miles.
Schools spokesman Charles Herndon said drivers who violate traffic laws are subject to a "progressive scale of disciplinary measures," though he did not know whether or how often those have been used.
"One ticket is too many," he said, adding, "Any time a driver receives a citation is a cause for concern and for us to take it seriously."
Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts