Cameras Add Security for School Buses

Recordings help with discipline, but systems can be pricey for school districts

Spokane Public Schools contracts with Laidlaw for its bus service. None of the buses uses a GPS, or Global Positioning System, but Laidlaw and district officials have had conversations about installing it.

Laidlaw could install them, though the cost would ultimately fall on the school district, Conley said. The price would be passed on to the district during contract negotiations.

"If we put the stipulation that each bus have GPS in a new contract, that's going to be reflected in their price," Conley said.

The contract expires in 2008.

Nextel is fronting the money for East Valley to try out a GPS on five of its special education buses. These systems can be used to track bus speed and locate buses on their routes. Each student has a bar code that is scanned when they get on and off the bus. Vigil said the district isn't using the system to track the students, but the information can be used if there's a question about when and where they got off the bus.

It would cost the district $800 per bus to install GPS equipment and $65 a month per bus for the service. With 43 buses, that would be too expensive, Vigil said.

Someday the state may include cameras and tracking systems as part of its regulation standards, but probably not in the near future.

"Statewide, buses and transportation are underfunded by $100 million," Vigil said.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.