Cassville R-4 hopes to improve bus security

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Dusty Reid, director of facilities and operations at Cassville Schools, adjusts a Bus Vision camera in one of the district's 26 school buses. Cassville is looking to install or upgrade all its buses to the AngelTrax system, at a total cost of $27,770.40. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Plans include installing AngelTrax system on all 26 buses

The Cassville R-4 School district is hoping to improve security on its fleet of 26 buses by installing AngelTrax systems on the ones that do not already have it.

The system, which includes features like color video, audio and GPS systems, would cost the district a total of $27,770.40.

Eleven buses already had the AngelTrax system installed in 2009. They are equipped with two cameras, one showing the back of the bus from the front, and another showing the front of the bus from the back. Eight of the buses still have the Bus Vision system, installed in 2000, which has one camera facing the back of the bus from the front with no audio and in black and white. Seven of the district's 26 buses have no security system at all.

To install AngelTrax systems on buses with no system, and to upgrade the eight buses on the Bus Vision system, the district would spend $1,422.36 per bus, for a total cost of $21,335.40. To upgrade the 11 buses equipped with the AngelTrax system already, adding at least one camera facing from the front of the bus forward into the street, the district would spend $585 per bus, for a total cost of $6,435.

Dusty Reid, director of facilities and operations at the district, said the additions and upgrades would be rolled into the district's upcoming bond issue election, when the district hopes voters will approve a $4 million bond issue for various capital projects, including school-wide security upgrades.

"It's another tool we can use to promote student safety," he said. "It will prevent misconduct, deter vandalism, assist in tracking problem motorists and promote good driving practices.

"It will also protect the driver against any fraudulent claims by motorists. We have not had any problems with that here, but other school districts have, so we want to be proactive."

Richard Asbill, Cassville superintendent, said the main focus of installing the cameras is student safety, but the technology has a multitude of uses.

"It can also be a great training tool for any issues that may occur, like where there are low-hanging trees or areas where we can't turn a bus around," he said. "Also, 31 percent of Missouri school buses participated in a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education study, and 691 of those buses experienced illegal passing."

Asbill said front-facing cameras will provide the district evidence of such illegal activities, as well as come in handy when more serious incidents occur. One such incident occurred less than two weeks ago, when an 18-wheeler crossed the center line and struck the mirror of one of the school's buses, near Roaring River State Park, and did not stop for the accident. No one was injured in the incident, and the current bus cameras did not record any information that would be used as evidence. Asbill said he hopes the upgraded camera systems will provide the district with that type of evidence, both for the school district's safety and for the community's safety. Reid said if there was a camera facing out the front of the bus, it would have provided a clear view of the accident.

Each of the AngelTrax system cameras will be equipped with an SD memory card, which Reid said depending on the length of some routes, could store anywhere from two days to seven days worth of video.

Reid said the SD cards are convenient, because if there is an issue, a school administrator would have the ability to insert the card into a computer and easily watch video of when the incident occurred.

"We are also excited about the GPS," Reid said. "We would have the ability to go back and research the speeds and locations of the buses. And we wouldn't have it off the bat, but it does have software that would show real-time movements, and that's something that could be an option down the road."

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