Daniel Boone School Board considers audio policy for school buses

The Daniel Boone School Board is considering adding audio recording to its video monitoring of district school buses.

The school board’s policy committee will introduce a first draft of a policy that would establish audio recording on school buses at the Sept. 8 committee-of-the-whole meeting.

Policy Committee Chairman Connor Kurtz announced the policy proposal at the board’s Aug. 25 meeting. The policy committee also includes board members Carol Beitz and Michael D. Wolfe.

Video recording is already used on school buses contracted from Klein Transportation and New Rhoads Transportation Inc., both of Douglassville.

District Superintendent Marybeth Torchia started drafting the audio policy in June.

Birdsboro resident Cindy McGee said in May that she supports the move to record both the audio and video of what occurs on the school buses.

“If we can at any point add audio — it’s a brutal atmosphere and can‘t enforce because there is no audio,” said McGee in May when Torchia first proposed drafting a policy.

“On an unsupervised 45-minute bus ride, it can be a harrowing experience,” said McGee of her children’s experiences, and said that the audio will protect everyone.

During a June 23 meeting, Wolfe questioned if there is “that much trouble on the buses?”

An audio engineer, Wolfe said the buses are “like a large tin can rolling down the street” and “what is the monitoring’s purpose?”

Torchia responded the district would know “how the school bus driver reacts” to a situation with the audio.

Beitz said Aug. 25 after the meeting that she is opposed to audio recordings on the buses and considers it an invasion of privacy.

Also on Sept. 8, the board will begin reading a policy draft for the district’s music and sports booster groups, Parent Teacher Council (PTC), and Daniel Boone Blazer Foundation.

Laurel Reno, of Douglassville, said she attended the Aug. 13 Policy Committee meeting, and the meeting lacked representation from any of the other groups the policy is intended to govern.

“If you truly want a working relationship of everyone in the district [these groups should have been invited],” said Reno, adding it “… might overstep some bounds and not sure where the working relationship is.”

Wolfe responded that the groups were invited.

Board President Richard Martino said the meetings are advertised in area newspapers and listed on the district’s website.

Board member David Rathgeb said he understands that the board can’t “invite” everyone, but agreed that the booster groups, PTC, and Blazer Foundation have a “stake” in the policy.

The Berks County Intermediate Unit has scheduled a “Keeping Kids Safe” symposium about drugs and heroin use for Oct. 2 from 8 a.m. until noon at the Intermediate Unit building in Reading.

On Sept. 30 at 7 p.m., the BCIU will host a video conference on educational funding in Pennsylvania.

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