West Bloomfield Schools Works to Improve Bus Surveillance
News bites before putting the little ones on the bus this morning include a response to vandalism incidents, new bell times and more.
West Bloomfield School District officials hope to preclude another incident involving vandalism of school buses with upgrades in security hardware.
Two separate incidents in the last school year closed school and events for one day apiece after unknown suspects climbed over a west fence into the district's transportation building (3340 Orchard Lake Rd., Orchard Lake), just north of Abbott Middle School and vandalized several buses.
Assistant Superintendent Thomas Goulding said last week that an upgrade to security systems, provided through current contractor ADT Security Systems, has been completed prior to the beginning of the school year this week.
Improvements include more high-resolution cameras which pan, zoom, tilt, and offer additional lighting, Goulding said at the Board of Education meeting Aug. 28. The district is also using new motion detectors, which ADT uses with cameras to determine what set off the detector and follow up with authorities when necessary, Goulding added.
After an incident in which 18 buses were vandalized in the late night hours of Jan. 29, then-Superintendent JoAnn Andrees said that the district began to pursue upgrades in its surveillance equipment. However, a similar incident Apr. 17 also closed school.
Possible suspects in the incidents have not been named, nor have any arrests taken place.
New bell times
Last school year, each of the three started school at 8:35 a.m. and ended at 3:27 p.m. This year, both times are being moved 10 minutes earlier in order to allow more time for bus drivers, said Lynne Robertson of Durham School Services, formerly the district's transportation director.
The earlier times are expected to alleviate situations of lateness which bothered the schools in the first few weeks of last school year, Robertson added. Other schools in the district will remain with their current times.
New hires and familiar faces
Over 50 percent of bus drivers returned to work this school year after the Board of Education voted to approve contracts with a private company last school year, according to Robertson.
Twenty-six veteran drivers are expected behind the wheel this week, while 18 new hires have been made by Durham. The entire transportation office returns, while two out of eight bus monitors return as well, Robertson added.
Durham operates 54 buses for West Bloomfield Schools.