The Edmond Sun

August 13, 2012

Cameras boost Edmond school bus safety

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Edmond Public Schools’ newest school buses have multiple cameras officials hope will help students behave better and ID motorists who don’t stop for stopped buses.

Friday is the first day of school for Edmond’s 22,466 students; Deer Creek’s first day is today. Edmond students will be headed to 15 elementary schools, one early childhood center, five middle schools, three high schools and one alternative school.

As of Monday, 495 students had registered at Edmond’s summer enrollment center, said district spokeswoman Susan Parks-Schlepp. The number does not reflect students enrolling at individual sites, and a more complete number will be available later in the week, she said.

Getting them safely to and from the schools is the job of the district’s bus drivers; in addition, city police officers will be watching motorists, especially in school traffic zones.

In November 2011, voters approved a $35.5 million bond package for Edmond Public Schools. It included $900,000 for large and small buses and for vehicle maintenance.

Some of the money was used to buy nine large Blue Bird buses, each of which has three interior and two exterior cameras, said Kenny Chamlee, Edmond Public Schools’ transportation director.

The interior mounted cameras record activity within buses and will help the district provide for the safe riding, boarding and exiting of students, Chamlee said. The cameras can also help identify motorists who fail to stop for a bus stopped with its stop sign arm extended, he said.

Edmond has about 20 buses equipped with multiple cameras now, and the rest have at least one, Chamlee said. Plans call for more to be added in the future.

In addition to providing a way to defend a driver’s actions on the bus, video footage can also help identify students who misbehave, Chamlee said.

“Inside there isn’t a seat that’s not covered,” he said. “The parents absolutely love the cameras. When they find out everything’s on film it takes the debate out of it.”

Chamlee said the district wants the public, including motorists, to know that the cameras will be out on the streets with the buses and that officials are doing everything they can to keep students safe.

Up to 16 cameras can be installed in virtually any location for full coverage on any vehicle type, according to the camera system manufacturer, Apollo Video Technology.

They include forward facing out the windshield, front passenger area facing rear, front stairwell area facing curbside, rear passenger area facing forward and front curbside exterior mount facing rear. Memory capacity, depending on the model, ranges from 160 GB to 2.0 TB. | 341-2121, ext. 108