The Española School District tabled an action item that was recommended by administration to upgrade the security camera system in transportation buses.
The total cost for the upgrades is $79,125.17 to Roberts Truck Center, which would include a six-camera system including interior cameras, a dashboard camera and a camera on the stop arm.
District Transportation Director Tito Ortiz said to the Board that this had been a priority for a long time, and the upgraded cameras are needed to reduce liability for the District and increase safety for students and drivers. He said the current system is outdated and said it does not work with bumps or weather, and the hard drives are hard to access.
Board member Brandon Bustos asked where the funding for the cameras would come from. When Ortiz said it was from the transportation budget. The Board later approved budget changes to take funding from unused diesel fuel and bus contractors and apply it toward supplies and materials. The amount still available would pay for the camera systems.
Bustos said he wondered if there were other priorities that it could be used on since students are not currently using buses.
The new cameras would have night vision, and cloud-based data storage.
Ortiz said on newer buses with higher seats, drivers cannot see students through the mirror, and cannot identify students to respond to accusations of bullying.
The cameras can also be used to capture the license plates of vehicles that run past a stop sign, Ortiz said. He said watching someone run past a bus stop sign was a terrifying experience.
Board member Jeremy Maestas asked if the money had been originally allocated to bus contractors, and Ortiz said that is correct.
When Maestas asked, Ortiz said not many Districts have the updated camera system but many are trying to upgrade.
Ortiz said the project would be only for transportation buses and one of the activity buses, since there was not enough money for the rest of the activity buses.
The year’s transportation budget must be spent by June 30, and if it is not expended by then, 50 percent must be given back to the Public Education Department, Ortiz said.
The Board ultimately voted to table the item until they could receive more information, though they did not specify what information was needed. Board President Yolanda Salazar voted against tabling the item.
Before voting, Bustos said he would like to see the money allocated to something other than cameras, though did not specify anything in particular.