Buses in the Pulaski County Special School District are now equipped with cameras and GPS radios after undergoing a $500,000 security upgrade.
Derek Scott, executive director of operations for the PCSSD, said each of the district’s approximately 275 buses now have cameras — a total of four on each bus — mounted both inside and outside of the vehicles.
Scott said the cameras weren’t put in place in response to any one incident, but are "just another aspect of trying to ensure that we have a safe environment for our students."
The cameras are equipped with hard drive recording devices, so if an incident occurs on a bus, there will be recorded footage available.
Scott expects the cameras to go a long way in keeping students and drivers safe, helping to prevent bullying and other such incidents.
The GPS radios mean that the exact location of any given bus can be pinpointed at any time.
In addition, Scott said the GPS radios could be used to gather fuel data, enabling the district to make decisions about which buses to place on the longest routes. Noting that buses in the PCSSD put in roughly 4.5 million route miles each year, Scott said the data could amount to quite a bit of savings in fuel costs for the district.
Mark Warden, a former deputy assistant warden, has also been hired as director of security for the district.
Scott said Warden would be in charge of running the entire security department and communicating with principals, employees and staff to coordinate security efforts.
Scott made no mention of other specific security upgrades in the immediate future, but said efforts to improve security are ongoing.
"We’ll never be done improving," he said.
"People want their kids to be safe," he said, pointing out that staff at the district are also parents in the district. "People need to know that we want them to be safe."