A bill is expected to be introduced in the House in January or February that would appropriate up to $5 million to equip all 1,700 school buses in the state with internal and external video systems in time for the 2015-2016 school year.
The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Education Committee endorsed a proposal Oct. 22 to install cameras inside and outside school buses as a means to better protect students. Proponents of video cameras contend it would help reduce incidents of motorists illegally passing stopped buses. On Dec. 20, 2011, 11-year-old MaKayla Marie Strahle of Crowheart was struck and killed by a passing motorist who failed to stop for her school bus after she disembarked and attempted to cross the road.
David Koskelowski, the state director of transportation at the Wyoming Department of Education, said that essentially half of the state's buses already have either video cameras mounted inside the bus for on-board recording or at the stop arm to monitor motorists who illegally pass school bus stops. He added that Wyoming would become the first state to have these cameras on every bus in the fleet.
Koskelowski said the intent is to be vendor neutral when it come to camera suppliers. He added that equiping the remaining buses with either internal or external cameras would be a similar job as what a decent-sized school district in, say, California or Texas would be faced with.
The draft legislation calls for 100-percent reimbursement for school districts to ensure buses purchased before July 1, 2015 and used for home-to-school transportation have video systems recording events inside and outside of the bus. After July 1, 2015, funding for the cost of on-board and stop-arm video cameras would fall under the state's existing block funding grant.
"Our goal, if this becomes law, is to have each district work with their current camera vendor and add cameras to the current system," he told STN. "We may have to add additional ports (from a four/five to an eight), but this would be included in our reimbursement. Once all of this happens, all buses delivered in the (2015-16) school year would have to have cameras on them, when delivered and prior to being placed in service."