Cameras will be aboard six school buses with Wolf Creek Public Schools starting in September with a plan to have cameras on every bus in 12 years.
Superintendent Jayson Lovell said cameras are being added to mostly address an increase in the number of drivers ignoring flashing school bus lights.
“It’s been ongoing. We’ve had a number of incidents over the years of drivers not stopping when the red lights are flashing,” Lovell said.
He said the most recent incident was reported by another driver last week.
“With the frequency of those incidents, having a camera available to ensure there’s a recording of that situation will provide law enforcement with additional information. It’s also really used as a deterrent.”
He said ignoring school bus lights is an issue in both urban and rural areas. Drivers have been found guilty of failing to stop for Wolf Creek buses. The fine is $544, along with six demerit points.
Three cameras will be installed inside and one camera outside six new buses being purchased as part of the division’s regular bus replacement program that includes about 70 buses.
Buses cost about $100,000 each and need to be replaced about every 12 years. The cost of each camera is about $400.
The six new school buses will run on three routes in Blackfalds and one route in Clive, Rimbey and Lacombe.
He said cameras inside the bus will be available to monitor student conduct if required. Video footage will be retained for 30 days and there will be strict rules about how it can be used and who can view it.
About 3,900 students, or about 54 per cent of Wolf Creek students use school buses, he said.
The school also contracts a few buses, but cameras will only be installed on Wolf Creek buses.
He said in recent years other jurisdictions have incorporated bus cameras and Wolf Creek will evaluate the surveillance camera program pilot next spring.
“It’s one of those circumstances where we’re trying to be proactive. At the end of the day, safety of our students is our number one job, so installing those cameras will ensure we can maintain that safety.”