By Alice Gerard
Senior Contributing Writer
Stop arm bus cameras are cameras that are placed on the outside of each school bus, with the goal of catching drivers who pass stopped school buses.
At Monday’s meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education, Superintendent Brian Graham explained, “Rubie Harris and I met with John Whitney and members of his team to talk about stop arm bus cameras. There are various venders who would work with the school district and give free stop arm bus cameras.” These cameras keep track of “license plates of cars that run the red lights, when the stop sign is out.”
When asked by several board members if any other school districts have established the program, Graham said the Niagara Falls School District is “pretty close, if they haven’t already done so.”
Graham said he is working with the town to establish the program and that he would continue to give the board of education updates, as they become available.
“We do have a follow-up meeting this Wednesday with the town to further that conversation,” he said. “We need the town and the school to work in collaboration to make this happen. I believe that the town would have to be the agent to send out citations to individuals who run the stop sign on the bus.”
Another program that is in the process of being implemented is the installation of vape detectors in both Veronica Connor Middle School and Grand Island High School.
“It’s been a passion of mine for the past seven years,” Board President Ashli Dreher said. “It’s a huge problem. I know we catch students vaping now, but probably not as many as we probably will when we have the vape detectors.”
Graham explained what happens when students are caught vaping.
“Even now, without the detectors in place, our high school and middle schools have a procedure,” he said. “Obviously, there are consequences for students, and part of those consequences involve an educational component. We will continue to report to the board how much of that data is percolating and what’s helping in the building to help children curb and have better choices.”
When Dreher asked for an estimate of when the vape detectors would be installed in both schools, Bob Merckle, assistant superintendent for school business and finance, said, “The purchase orders have been issued. The vape detection equipment is actually here. We’re waiting for an installation date. We’ve moved the installation to the second shift, so it wouldn’t interrupt the school day. I think the venders have a little bit of an issue getting people to work the second shift. Hopefully, we will have that answer pretty soon. All the equipment is here, so we expect it to be installed in the very near future.”
In addition, Adam Buffomante, interim principal of Veronica Connor Middle School, introduced the newly appointed interim assistant principal, Christina Heitz.
“Most recently, she comes to us from Clarence High School, where she’s been a math teacher,” Buffomante said. "Christina graduated from Canisius in 2004, with a secondary education degree. She holds her first master’s degree in school counseling and recently finished her educational leadership degree at Canisius.
“Born and raised in Lancaster, Christine now lives in Clarence with her husband, Bill, and their three children. With her extensive background in education and her commitment to student success, Christina is poised to be an invaluable asset to our school community. I have every confidence that she will be making a significant impact as our new assistant principal. I look forward to working very closely with her, as she continues to elevate the standards of excellence that we hold within this district.
“Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Christina, our new assistant principal, and in wishing her the best of luck this year.”