Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 17, 2017

New London installing cameras on school buses, citing safety precaution

Nov 22, 2017

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

NEW LONDON — As an extra safety precaution and to monitor behavior, the New London Community School District is installing cameras on all six of their school buses.

One camera will be pointed at the speedometer, one will have a view of the “Stop” arm on the side of the bus and another will have a better view of the bus as a whole, said Chad Wahls, District Superintendent for New London School District, during a School Board meeting on Monday, Nov. 20.

“There’s a lot of use for those cameras other than just worrying about videotaping kids,” Wahls said. “If we were to get a phone call about a bus driving recklessly, we can look.”

The cameras and software will cost the school district $8,121, which will come out of the technology fund, board secretary and treasurer Jessica Boyer said.

Wahls said with cameras on the bus, students in sports, who often use the buses as locker rooms, will have to be educated against changing on the bus.

Another change coming to the school buses is the chain of disciplinary action. The board approved a revision to the student handbook that states what should be done in the event of student infractions while riding the bus.

“Lately we’ve had a few (misbehaviors),” Wahls said. “No more or less than last year. There just needs to be a communication chain.” Wahls elaborated that there was communication with the bus drivers about what should be done if a student misbehaves, but administrators had been left in the dark.

The revision states that for a first offense, students will be sent home. For a second offense, it will be determined if administration needs to follow-up on more disciplinary action. And for a third offense, students will be removed from the bus for at least three to five days, depending on the severity of the infraction.

In other news, the board is deciding whether to hire a new driver education teacher or to outsource driver’s education to Open Road or Triple R Driving School after the previous teacher resigned. Boyer said the prices are comparable, charging around $300 to $350 per student for the class. If the board does want to keep driver’s education in-house, there is a teacher already interested in teaching it.

The benefit of outsourcing the class is that the companies provide driver’s education vehicles. The class would also be kept at the school, so students wouldn’t have to travel, and each company takes care of scheduling and collecting money. This could also open up the opportunity for driver’s education being offered during the school year, where previously it was only offered during the summer months.

The board is waiting on clarification for whether outsourcing the class means students who qualify for reduced or free driver’s education would now have to pay the full tuition.

As for the New London Athletic Complex, the board still is in negotiation with Todd Hackett Construction Co. over a mistake made when laying the asphalt track. After the radius on the inside of the track was inaccurately poured, the company did patchwork, which Wahls is afraid will warp over time.

“Me just knowing (about) concrete and shifting and heating, I said (to them), ‘I don’t know asphalt, but that’s not good enough for me,” Wahls said.

The school district is trying to negotiate an extended warranty or pursue other options, Wahls said.

A big concern Wahls has is that the track will not be completed in time for track meets this spring, saying it needs to be striped and painted before April 24.

“We can’t get the season going,” Wahls said. “Who’s going to pay us for the track meet that we can’t host now, or two or three?”

School board member Jesse Howard said if the school district takes out money to fix the contractor’s problem they are “robbing” their taxpayers.

“I struggle giving Todd Hacket another dollar until (we can get it sorted out.),” Howard said. “It’s not acceptable work that they’ve done.”

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