Infrared cameras to be installed on Margaretta K-12 busses

MARGARETTA TWP. Say cheese! Margaretta students will be watched during the upcoming s
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Say cheese!

Margaretta students will be watched during the upcoming school year.

Margaretta Schools administrators are installing infrared surveillance cameras during the month of August in the district's 18 school busses to deter students from acting up during bus runs and field trips.

On June 20, the school board passed a resolution to place kindergarteners through high school seniors on the same bus line in order to cut costs after two failed levies.

Since then, school administrators have been discussing with parents ways to ensure student safety while riding the bus. The camera sets cost about $2,200 each, which means the district is investing nearly $40,000 in the security camera initiative.

"We're trying to be proactive," said Margaretta Superintendent Ed Kurt. "Stop things before (they happen) and, if something does happen, we'll have a good record of what did happen."

Kurt said that unlike conventional cameras, the district's new infrared cameras, which are used by Huron Schools and other local school districts, can see what students are doing when there is low visibility.

"Basically, in the morning it's dark and during (evening) field trips, it's dark," he said. "(These) cameras can be used all the time instead of just during daylight."

The buses will all be outfitted with a set of these cameras, which are installed in the roof with each observing two to three rows of seats.

"The cameras are one way we feel we can do a better job of surveillance with the busses and help with safety for the upcoming school year," Kurt said.

School administrators have also discussed using Margaretta High School Leadership Class students to chaperone bus trips for the first week of school to help younger students get used to the new system.

"They may come in and help with the transfer for the kindergarten, first-, second-, and third-grade students," Kurt said. "We have a lot of great kids that are students in Margaretta and we're going to utilize them in helping out with the younger kids."

The plan has not been finalized, but is in the works, Kurt said.

School administrators will give the new bus route a trial run Aug. 9 without students. Parents will receive letters detailing their children's bus routes, route times and bus numbers during the second week of August.

"We have a lot of confidence in our students that they'll step up for this one bus route plan," Kurt said.

The first day of school is Aug. 28.