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ALPINE— About 21,000 students in the Alpine School District ride the bus every school day, and now cameras will be watching them.
The Alpine School District said they began installing cameras on buses this year after a successful pilot program showed that it reduced bullying in 2010.
‘It just feels like in our day and age, this is the right thing to do," said John Patten, spokesman for the Alpine School District.
Each bus will have four to six cameras inside, so every angle is captured on video, the district said. Two dozen buses currently have cameras in them, and the district plans to equip 30 to 50 each year until the entire fleet is covered.
In May, cameras on a district bus caught a fight between two junior high kids that started off the bus and continued when they got onboard. As soon as things got physical, the driver pulled the boy back. Administrators said the video was useful for determining exactly what happened.
"School buses are a place where problems can happen, just like anywhere else," Patten said. "The cameras really act as a preventative measure."
According to the school district bullying on buses doesn't happen too often, but cameras like these have caught violent acts across the country. Patten said the cameras will also be useful in cases where allegations are made against a bus driver.
"We live in a system that we really demand accountability and transparency and safety for our kids," Patten said.
One parent said the cameras put her mind at ease.
"I would feel safer with cameras on buses just as added security," said Gerille Wright, a parent.
However at a cost of $1,900 to equip one bus, some parents said they aren't sure school resources are being put to the best use.
"Is that the best use of money?" asked Renee Rhoton, a parent. "Is it the most effective way to decrease bullying?"
The funding for the cameras is coming from the ongoing capital fund. The district said the cameras are a worthwhile expense.