Port Byron (WSYR-TV) -- We’ve certainly seen and heard about cases of bullying on the bus. A cell phone video of a Rochester area bus monitor being verbally attacked by kids last June went viral. And now, one local school district is turning to technology to make sure its buses are being closely monitored.
Step onto a bus in the Port Byron School District and you’re on camera. Four cameras on each bus are carefully positioned, and every camera picks up sound too.
After a growing number of bully and discipline issues, the district decided to turn to the cameras for help last year and they say it’s worked tremendously, dropping discipline reports significantly.
"The kids point to the camera when a child misbehaves...Really, the best thing about cameras is when it’s preventative,” said Port Byron Superintendent Neil O’Brien.
There's really not much the driver has to worry about in regards to the cameras. They're pretty much fixed in place; all the driver has to do is sit down and drive. If there’s an incident the driver pushes a certain button and it puts a marker on the video so officials can review that particular spot later on.
The district also regularly watches video of bus runs picked at random. The hard drives are pulled from selected buses and video on them is reviewed.
“If we see a child’s behavior on there that is somewhat bothersome, but hasn’t elevated to the point the bus driver is complaining about it we can be proactive and say we were watching a bus run today and we saw you jump up four or five times; you can’t do that on a bus,” O’Brien said.
New this year is a sophisticated tracking system with live GPS, which allows the district to follow everything from the speed of every bus, to their whereabouts at any moment.
"With our routing software I can pull up the bus, export a spreadsheet to our school messenger system and we can notify all those parents on that affected run by phone that the bus is going to be late,” said Port Byron Transportation Supervisor Corey Rooker.
The district says it’s not about big brother spying, but rather four extra sets of eyes on the bus and one more pair outside to ensure busing in the district runs as smoothly and safely as possible.
The state picked up 90 percent of the cost for the technology systems used on the buses.