School bus cameras to get trial run

Posted: March 12, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — The city School Board has approved a pilot program that will place cameras on the side of school buses in an effort to enhance child safety.

At a Winchester Public Schools meeting Monday, the board unanimously voted for the division to enter into an agreement with Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. to provide the division — at no cost — with video monitoring systems in two buses for a pilot period no longer than 60 days.

The system uses technology similar to red-light cameras. The cameras will be placed on the left side of buses. When the bus stops and someone passes it, a photo captures the vehicle’s license plate.

“This takes it all out of the [bus] drivers’ hands, totally,” said Winchester schools Executive Director Kevin McKew.

City Sheriff Lenny Millholland said that from the beginning of school in 2012 until Dec. 31, his deputies wrote 55 tickets to people who broke the law prohibiting drivers from passing a stopped bus in the morning or afternoon.

After the pilot program is finished, the division can then decide to enter into a contract for a long-term program that could start as soon as this fall. If an agreement is executed, revenues generated from the fines, which are $250, will cover the cost of the program. Redflex will also receive part of the fines paid by violators.

The board also authorized a four-classroom modular to be installed in front of Quarles Elementary School, between the school and a play yard. The total cost of the project is $250,000, and the contract award will go to Mobile Modular Management Corporation, of California.

The school is in need of a modular classroom due to overcrowding. The classrooms will seat an additional 80 to 100 students and will be in place by the time school starts this fall.

Present at the meeting were Chairman John Bishop, Vice-Chairman Melvin Thomas, and members Richard Bell, Sharion Poston, Cynthia Ford, Erica Truban, Allyson Pate, Mary Margaret Wise and Vince DiBenedetto. The city School Board has approved a pilot program that will place cameras on the side of school buses.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com