HOULTON, Maine — SAD 29 board members decided to take advantage of an offer to install temporary cameras on one or two school buses in the coming weeks in order to gauge their success in reducing problems for students and drivers.
SAD 29 educates approximately 1,300 students from Houlton, Hammond, Littleton and Monticello. There are four schools in the district.
Superintendent Mike Hammer said the idea of putting cameras on buses came up during the last school year after problems with behavior on long bus rides and negative interaction between younger and older riders. Middle school and high school students who live in communities such as Littleton and Monticello sometimes spend an hour or more on the bus as other students are picked up for the ride to schools in Houlton.
Hammer said that he checked around and found a company that offered the district one or two cameras on a trial basis to see if they like them. The superintendent said he queried other school districts and found several that have cameras on their buses. Some districts put them on every bus while others choose the most problematic buses and install them there.
“We could get a couple and put them on the buses and see if that changes things and if we like the cameras,” he told the board.
Board members were open to the idea.
Paul Cleary suggested that a camera be installed on the most problematic bus, while Sandra Wilkins said she felt that it should be placed on the bus with the greatest age difference between students. Hammer noted that the cameras not only could help with behavior problems, they also could help the district during litigation if an issue ever arose regarding something that happened on one of its buses.
The board decided to take advantage of the camera company’s offer but left it up to the superintendent to determine which buses would be equipped.