LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board on Wednesday rejected proposals from two companies for camera services on school buses, opting instead to explore purchasing their own cameras to monitor activity inside the buses and to catch drivers who break school bus traffic laws.
The board’s original measure was to vote on proposals submitted by two companies — RedFlex and Force Multiplier — to install internal and external cameras on the school system’s 210 buses, as well as monitor and issue tickets to people who violate traffic laws, such as passing a school bus that has its stop sign deployed.
Both companies did a test run last year with a few Lafayette Parish school buses.
At the board’s January meeting, the board asked both vendors to submit an alternate proposal for the board to buy and install the cameras without including the video monitoring and enforcement.
Force Multiplier Solutions representatives said they could not sell their equipment to the board. RedFlex representative Charlie Buckels told board members Wednesday night that although the company could work out a purchase agreement, the school system would be better served if the company also provided traffic enforcement services like it already does at some intersections in the city of Lafayette.
Board member Erick Knezek said with a new sheriff, a new police chief and a new City-Parish Council taking office this year, the board could benefit from working with the new heads of law enforcement on issuing tickets for drivers who break school bus traffic laws.
Because the board is considering purchasing the equipment instead of hiring a company for services, the board is required by law to go through a bidding process and award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder, board member Justin Centanni said.
Centanni said the board will revisit the issue.
In other business, the board received a draft copy of the district’s strategic plan to drastically improve academic performance and graduation rates by 2020.
The plan, called Vision 2020, replaces the 100 Percent In-100 Percent Out Turnaround Plan the board adopted in April 2012 under then-Superintendent Pat Cooper.
The new, 45-page plan centers on four “fundamental commitments”: that all children enter kindergarten ready to learn; that all children are on grade level in reading and math when they start fourth grade; that all students are proficient in English-language arts and math when they start high school; and that all high school graduates are college- and career-ready.
Included in the draft are specific benchmarks the school system hopes to achieve by 2020, like increasing the average ACT score from 20 to 22 and raising the graduation rate from 68.8 percent to 80 percent.
The plan also calls for a drastic increase in the number of laptops, tablets and other electronic devices for the district’s 32,000 students and their teachers. By 2020, the school system hopes to provide 16,560 tablets for students and teachers in pre-K through third grades; 11,478 Chromebooks for students and teachers in fourth through eighth grades; and 6,968 laptops for teachers and students in grades nine through 12. Lafayette Parish schools Superintendent Donald Aguillard told board members not to worry yet about the $49.5 million price tag attached to the strategic plan. He also urged board members and the public to “be critical when you look at this document.”
“We want this to be a community-led endeavor to raise student achievement in Lafayette Parish,” he said.