Havre Daily News
Havre school buses may have video cameras installed and recording as soon as this fall.
Ginger Zanto, director of transportation for Havre Public Schools, wrote a letter to the superintendent and director of operations in December extolling the benefits of video surveillance and outlining the reasons to consider cameras. Her reasons included deterring vandalism and harassment, promoting staff accountability and facilitating accident investigation. Zanto said video could also be used in driver training.
“Sometimes we need to take a closer look at what's happening and make sure we are operating as safe as possible,” Zanto said in an interview today.
She said she wants to install four cameras in four buses and continue to do so until all 25 Havre buses are equipped.
Havre bus driver Rana Karnauskas said she likes the idea. She moved to the Hi-Line in August from Houston, Texas, where buses are equipped with video camera. She said the cameras were helpful when problem children were on the bus because the cameras would capture exactly what happened and the footage could be shown to the parents as proof.
She said the cameras in Houston were not on all of the time, but the students were not aware of when they were recording so the cameras served as a constant reminder to behave.
“I think it is a positive thing that would reinforce safety on the bus,” Karnauskas said Wednesday.
Each bus has general safety rules posted in the front of the bus. Among them are that students should remain seated and have no food or drink on the bus. Karnauskas said surveillance would be a helpful tool to reinforce the rules and make sure kids are behaving.
Havre schools board members and Superintendent Kirk Miller said they are open to the idea. They've asked Zanto to research her idea and present a plan to them at a future board meeting.
Board member Norman Proctor said Wednesday he sympathizes with the bus driver who is trying to watch the road and the students.
“You always see the second half of everything,” Proctor said.
With the video, administrators would be sure they were punishing the right person, Proctor said.
“Cameras would tell the real story of what happens on the bus,” HPS director of operations Ric Floren said Wednesday.
Proctor said he wants to see the cost of video surveillance.
“I am a proponent of any and all information gathering we can do,” board member Todd Hanson said.
Hanson said the cameras would help drivers keep their eyes on the road.
Floren said the transportation department will “go full speed ahead” with research on cameras. Floren said the best time to install surveillance is summer, when buses wouldn't have to be taken out of commission.