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Board of Education approves installing cameras on school buses to monitor behavior

The Beaufort County Board of Education tonight unanimously approved a plan to install video and audio recording systems on all of the district’s 166 school buses.  The district’s $257,000 contract with the winning bidder, Charlotte-based Fortress Systems, calls for three digital units on each bus: one in the front of the vehicle, one in the middle and one in the rear. The cameras should be installed by December 31, district officials said.

There is little hard research data around the nation to show that the presence of cameras on buses acts as a deterrent against bad behavior, said Student Services Officer Gregory McCord. But he said that there is anecdotal support among educators for cameras’ deterrent effect, and he added that video and audio recordings would prove valuable in providing objective evidence during student disciplinary proceedings.

“We think this is a very positive move,” McCord said. “It will help the district remain proactive in ensuring student safety, which is always our top priority.”

The district’s contract with Fortress Systems includes installation costs on all 166 school buses, a three-year parts-and-labor warranty on the leased equipment, training for employees and technical support extending beyond the warranty period.  McCord said the district and schools would notify students and their parents about the installation of bus cameras using telephone messages, e-mail, websites, individual letters to parents of bus riders, and School Improvement Council and PTO meetings.