News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, January 9, 2020
School district to add cameras to buses
Aims to catch drivers who pass stopped school buses

by Leslie Landrigan

Drivers who pass stopped School Union 76 buses could soon be fined $250 because a camera on the bus took a picture of their vehicle. If they do it a second time within three years, they could lose their license for 30 days.

The Deer Isle-Stonington CSD Board on January 7 decided to put traffic surveillance cameras on three of its eight school buses. A private citizen donated $1,800 to pay for the cameras, and the board unanimously voted to accept the money.

“We’ve had a couple of very close misses since spring where people have almost been killed,” said Community School District 13 Board Chairman Jane Osborne.

The cameras cost about $600 each, said Union 76 Superintendent Christian Elkington. He said the school board intends to install the cameras within a month, and they will go on the buses that travel the busiest roads.

Maine lawmakers legalized traffic surveillance cameras on school buses in June. At least 20 other states have laws allowing video surveillance cameras on school bus stop arms.

Companies that sell the school bus cameras also send the images of law-breaking motorists to local law enforcement.

The cameras are only allowed to take photos of cars or trucks unlawfully passing a stopped school bus. The image may then only be forwarded to police, prosecutors or the defendant.

The school board on Tuesday also discussed the After School Program and its new director, Alice McDonald, an island resident who is also a registered nurse.

Finally, the board voted to participate in the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program, which provides meals for children in after school programs.