EL bus cameras operating

Elk Lake’s Senior Homecoming Court consisted of, front row, from left, Katie Mitchell, Kelsey Hermick, Cassie VanEtten, Sierra Smith, Mazie Tyler, Gabby Baltzley, Bri Hollenbeck, and Emily Mowry. In the back row are Cole Teed, TJ Warholic, Bryan Grosvenor, Joe Woolcock, Ryan Depew, Mark Bush, Bobby Benscoter, and Chris O'Brian. PHOTO COURTESY OF KRIS MORAHAN

BY MICHAEL J. RUDOLF

Video surveillance cameras are now operating in all Elk Lake School District buses, the school board learned on Tuesday.

High school principal Ken Cuomo told the board that the cameras have already been used twice to enforce disciplinary problems by students.

Cuomo also noted that some of the cameras are having technical problems, which will require the company that installed them to return and make adjustments.

Each bus has three cameras, Cuomo explained. One is focused on the front half of the seats, a second is aimed at the back half and the third points at the steps by the door.

According to Cuomo, the systems in just four of the district’s more than 30 buses functioned properly every day in the school year so far. The rest have had some minor problems, he said.

For example, he said on at least one bus, the image of one of the cameras is reversed. Others have the cameras misaligned, so that not all of the seats are visible.

Cuomo said he is doing periodic checks of the video storage cards that the cameras are connected to.

Board president Chuck Place said he has heard concerns from some bus contractors that the district is using the video to monitor their actions. Cuomo dismissed those fears, noting that it would be impossible for the district to watch everything.

With the number of buses the district has and the fact that the cameras record approximately four hours a day, Cuomo said it would take three or four people watching video full-time to track everything.

Cuomo explained that the purpose of the cameras is to have evidence in case there are allegations of improper actions by students.

Each video card can record about 100 hours, Cuomo said, meaning it takes about five weeks before it starts recording over itself. He added that in the event of an incident, bus drivers or school officials can mark certain parts of the video, which get stored in another part of the memory and won’t get erased.

In other business, Kim Guiton gave an update on the district’s energy efficiency measures.

Guiton noted that after almost two years in an energy conservation program, the district has reduced energy usage by 28 percent, resulting in a savings of $253,187.

Some of the savings are the result of work done as part of routine maintenance, Guiton said. For example, updated lights were installed in fixtures that needed replacement anyway.

Guiton also said she is studying prices for electrical providers starting next year, after Penelec removes its rate caps in January.

In another energy-related matter, Superintendent William Bush said in October, a solar power company from California will make a presentation to the board about installing a solar collection farm on the school grounds.

Bush said the company would sell electricity to power companies, and the school district would benefit financially.

Also, Bush informed the board that on Oct. 8, the district will conduct an emergency evacuation drill for all students.

The drill involves getting all students and personnel completely off the school grounds. Students will be taken by bus to Montrose Area High School.

Plans are still being coordinated with emergency officials, Bush said.

The board also approved the appointment of some coaches, including Angela Kahle, girls’ seventh grade basketball, at a stipend of $1,898; Michelle Brace, assistant varsity track, $2,313; Wes Warner, varsity wrestling, $8,718, and Mike Noldy, junior varsity wrestling, $3,198.

Also, the board approved the list of class officers for the 2010-2011 school year. They are:

Student council – Katie Mitchell and Jacob Boner, presidents (there was a tie vote); Cassie VanEtten, vice president; Lydia Watkins, secretary; Joseph Woolcock, treasurer.

12th grade – Emily Mowry, president; Gabby Baltzley, vice president; Kelsey Hermick, secretary; T.J. Warholic, treasurer.

11th grade – Dylan Simmons, president; Courtney Cook, vice president; Cassandra Hunter, secretary; Daniel Addice, treasurer.

10th grade – Jason Vermeulen, president; Meagan Bush, vice president; Susanne Tewksbury, secretary; Brittany Garay, treasurer.

National Honor Society – Shannon Agredo, president; Shea Skinner, vice president; Kelsey Hermick, secretary; Hunter Cole, treasurer.

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