Vernon Independent School District is upping security and safety measures for students across the area. The district will soon install 39 cameras inside school buses.
School board officials approved getting the cameras on Monday. The district will spend more than $26,000 for the new equipment and installation.
“It’s strictly something that we hope will help us and help keep the kids safe over a period of time,” said Jimmie Anderson Transportation and Grounds Director at VISD. “If you have a problem on a bus you want to be able to know what happened so you can straighten it out.”
Each of the school's 13 route buses will have three cameras on board. The new equipment will have both visual and audio features. Officials said they've had cameras in the past. However, they've gone without them due to the lack of funds in the budget.
“This year they saw fit to let us buy some cameras and so we're going to put them on the buses mainly just be proactive,” said Anderson.
Depending on what age group is riding on the bus Vernon school officials said between 50 and 77 students could be on the bus at once. It's hard for bus drivers to concentrate on the road while also monitoring what's going on in the back, according to Anderson.
“Hopefully we don't need them but usually there's always something you want to see that happened, be it vandalism or something like that,” said Anderson.
Should the bus driver see anything during the normal route, they will soon have the opportunity to press a button and mark the time for school officials to review.
“If a driver has a problem or disturbance that they don’t know what it is, they can mark that spot and we can go back and look at it and see,” said Anderson.
Right now school officials are still processing the purchase order. Then they will have to submit detailed information about their buses makes and models. Anderson said he doesn’t expect the new cameras will be installed for at least another 30 days.
Vernon ISD isn’t the only school district that has school bus cameras. Durham School Services said regular education buses in Wichita Falls Independent School District all have cameras. The district bought them a year ago, and the last additions were put into place this past summer.