Houston school board tables vote on outfitting school buses with traffic cameras

PERRY -- The Houston County school board again tabled a decision Tuesday on whether to outfit Houston County school buses with cameras to catch violators of no-passing laws.

“I don’t think we’re ready to do that now,” said Superintendent Robin Hines, who requested the board table the item. “We need to get everything lined up and bring it to you, so you have the full picture.”

Chairman Tom Walmer said after the meeting it’s likely the board will approve a contract with American Traffic Solutions at its September meeting. The company would then install cameras on the stop arms of 20 system school buses.

“I can say pretty confidently the board is in favor of moving forward” with the initiative, Walmer said. “It’ll be great for student safety.”

Last month, the board was asked to consider a deal with American Traffic Solutions to install cameras on school bus stop arms to catch motorists who do not obey state laws that require stopping when a bus is loading or unloading passengers.

The Temple, Ariz.-based company would manage the equipment and the issuance of tickets, though the Houston County Sheriff’s Office would OK citations based on footage from the cameras.

Board members tabled the item at their July meeting because they wanted more definitive answers about how the arrangement between the sheriff’s department and the school system would work. With few answers this month, the item was tabled again.

School board attorney Bill Jerles said at a Monday work session that county commissioners should also be contacted because fines will be paid to the county, with revenue being split among American Traffic Solutions, the sheriff’s department and the school board.

Fines for illegally passing a school bus could reach up to $1,000, according to state law.

Stephen Thublin, school system comptroller, said details of the contract, including its length, are still being negotiated.

He added he intends for the cameras to serve more as a deterrent to motorists than a revenue-generator for the school board.

David Jackson, senior business development director at ATS, said Monday that Carroll County Schools has agreed to work with the company. Cobb County commissioners approved the cameras Tuesday. Jackson said Newton County, Muscogee County and the city of Carrollton already have the cameras.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board unanimously approved a 13.34 millage rate for the fourth consecutive year.

Last year the board pushed for voters to approve an education special purpose local option sales tax on a promise it would prevent a raise in the millage rate.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.