No bus cameras, says Forest Park school board

Contract with RedSpeed, Illinois rejected

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By Jean Lotus


The Forest Park school board unanimously shot down a proposal to equip district school bus stop-arms with traffic cameras at its meeting Feb. 13.

The board had tabled the traffic violation camera proposal from RedSpeed, Illinois, LLC at its January meeting. At that meeting board members said they needed "more data" about the district's problems with drivers who illegally skirt around stopped school buses. The board also requested data from the Lombard-based company about the usage of the cameras in other states.

Superintendent Louis Cavallo initially supplied an incident log to the board showing bus drivers reported 51 stop-arm violations within one week. The data showed the problem was significantly higher at Grant-White school during the morning rush hour on Randolph Street between 7:20 and 7:45 a.m. Data showed 44 drivers blew through the extended school bus stop sign in one week. Other violations took place twice or three times a week at the other schools, according to the data.

At Thursday's meeting, Cavallo said he wanted to show the board new data showing whether scofflaw drivers changed their behavior when police were visible. Cavallo said he requested a squad car from the Forest Park police to monitor the area around Grant-White during the morning drop off, but the district's request was not met.

"The police have limited resources," Cavallo told the board.

The RedSpeed contract had support from the Village of Forest Park. The Forest Park Village Council voted to sign on to a three-year contract with RedSpeed at its December 2013 board meeting.

But the contract required a separate approval by the school board, as well as an intergovernmental agreement between the two taxing bodies.

School board members were not convinced the traffic cameras and the $150 - $500 citations they generated, actually had any effect on the safety of students. Cavallo said in January the schools were, "not in the revenue business" when it came to generating traffic citations.

Board member Heather Cianciolo said at the January meeting her research showed stop-arm violations went down when buses had multiple stop arms and flashing headlights. She also said police stings deterred scofflaw drivers.

"This is a vendor's solution to provide a fine to those who have an infraction, but that's not safety," said board member Sean Blaylock at the time.

Board member Michael O'Connor said in January that he wondered, "if this is about a safety issue or just a money-maker." O'Connor is a police officer with the Forest Park police department.

Both Cianciolo and O'Connor missed this month's school board meeting.

The technology is brand new in Illinois and board members waited to vote until they got data about how well it worked in other states where stop-arm cameras have been installed.

It was that data, provided by RedSpeed, ironically, that made board member Eric Connor vote against the proposal. According to Connor, the data showed driver citation revenue kept up at a steady pace, months after districts installed the cameras.

"That shows it's not causing violations to go down, so [the cameras] are not having an effect on safety," Connor said.

Had the initiative passed, Forest Park would have been an early-adopter of the program. The Illinois legislature passed school bus stop-arm camera legislation just last May. Commissioner Tom Mannix said he was excited that Forest Park might be the first municipality in the state to install the bus cameras.

"People are going to know, when you come to Forest Park, if you drive around the school bus, you're going to get a ticket," Mannix said in December. "This, bottom line is about the safety of the kids," Mannix added.

Mannix and some other commissioners have a financial relationship to RedSpeed. The company made campaign contributions to Mannix, Commissioner Mark Hosty and Mayor Anthony Calderone, including a recent contribution of $750 to Forest Park PAC on Sept. 30, 2013. RedSpeed has provided red-light cameras at busy Forest Park intersections like Harlem Avenue and Roosevelt Road since 2008. The total amount contributed to Forest Park politicians since 2007 by RedSpeed is $2,000.

The Prospect Heights Public School District 23 also had a contract with RedSpeed on the school board agenda Feb. 12. But the board took the proposal off the agenda so the Prospect Heights village attorney could look it over, District 23 Superintendent Deb Wilson said.  


See more school board coverage in Wednesday's Foret Park Review

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Reader Comments

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jerry from forest park  

Posted: February 25th, 2014 11:57 AM

Unigue, I like it, while it might not stop them right away, it will sooner or later. Plus there will be a fine, buying new tires, they won't do it again.


Posted: February 25th, 2014 11:17 AM

I like Unique Solution's method of slowing people down that want to pass a stopped school bus! I couldn't agree more that all the cameras/tickets do is generate revenue. John is either a red light camera shill or friends with the mayor and his PAC constituents (that accepted contributions from the red light camera company).

Unique Solution from Forest Park  

Posted: February 25th, 2014 10:15 AM

Cameras do not stop vehicles from blowing by stopped school buses. If they did, the revenue they generate would DECREASE over time, showing that they really are a deterrent. RedSpeed's own data shows that revenue does NOT decrease, even after years. Therefore, all the cameras do is generate revenue. It does nothing to solve the problem. Maybe the buses should be allowed to throw a spike strip down when the stop arm comes out. A few flat tires would be a deterrent! HA!

jerry from forest park  

Posted: February 25th, 2014 9:58 AM

John, while I agree that one death is one to many you need to tell the whole story. 28 deaths since 2008 I believe it was, what they did not say was how many kids were killed in bus accidents. If you bother to read up on it more kids arew killed and injuried by school bus's than cars. All the carera's do is generate income for the village and school's. There is NO ENFORCEMENT, so how does this make the kid's safer, simple, it doesn't. You need to WAKE UP.


Posted: February 25th, 2014 9:57 AM

Understand 1st that this is a National law NOT to pass busses with their lights on and stop sign out. Next the State of Illinois passed a law to allow Video monitoring and ticketing of violators. Last look beyond children being dropped curbside- this law protects the children who dart across the street to catch bus, or to be picked up- that is were the safety concern lies. Now lets drop the politics and protect the school children.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 25th, 2014 9:55 AM

There isn't a one size fits all solution to this problem. It's specific to the location. And Forest Park does not require school bus cameras as part of the solution. It requires careful attention by school officials (drop off and pick up around the corner, as one person suggested, and staff presence) and enforcement as needed by police.


Posted: February 25th, 2014 9:45 AM

For those that want to watch the story But I gotta say, the examples they showed were really busy streets (Rt. 59), and that little dinky 'stop' sign on the bus. Perhaps a giant 2x4 or a hammer swinging out would get the drivers' attention. In Forest Park though, why can't they just pull around the corner. Really, is it that difficult.


Posted: February 25th, 2014 8:54 AM

Channel 7 news- Chuck Goudie covered the school bus topic lastnight (2/24) and their conclusion was in support of cameras. Their analysis had no political bias or spin like Forest Park allowed to roll in vs. putting the safety of the children first. They interviewed bus drivers who like FP drivers highlighted this is a huge safety concern- then Ch 7 showed stats 28 deaths- ONE is too many. WAKE UP !


Posted: February 24th, 2014 5:08 PM

If we still had neighborhood schools would the district have to spend 3 million on Betsy with a declining enrollment of under 900 students.What is the projected enrollment the for the next 5 years . Still on the downslide

jerry from forest park  

Posted: February 24th, 2014 1:17 PM

Well Dizzy, there is your problem, when speaking to a mixed group "guys" sort of means everyone, non gender specific. As for being you "guys" roadie, you don't need any help. Sometimes Observer adds something dialog I don't believe you ever have.

Dizzy Lizzy  

Posted: February 24th, 2014 9:00 AM

@Jerry, first I am offended that you call me a guy! Next maybe you could be the technology roadie for our comic show after all you are part of it no?

jerry from forest park  

Posted: February 24th, 2014 12:03 AM

Observer and Dizzy, you guys are so funny, you should be on the stage. I hear there is one leaving tomorrow at noon.


Posted: February 23rd, 2014 1:08 PM

A very wise & honorable man once said "A good toolbox contains many different tools" ;) I think what he was trying to say from his own experience: It takes a tool to know a tool ;)

Dizzy Lizzy  

Posted: February 23rd, 2014 11:39 AM

@Jerry, you are such the Dude!

jerry from forest park  

Posted: February 23rd, 2014 10:56 AM

And Dizzy, your name fits you so well

Dizzy Lizzy  

Posted: February 23rd, 2014 9:33 AM

@Forest Park Townie, really? Pleeeze. How crazy you sound.


Posted: February 23rd, 2014 6:43 AM

Why doesn't the stupid bus drop the kids off around the corner (so it doesn't clog traffic, during rush hour!) and not on Randolph. Post a school person to assure the kids make it to the door. Problem solved.

Forest Park Townie from Forest Park  

Posted: February 22nd, 2014 9:27 PM

It is good to see Michael O'Connor standing up to the mayor and mannix. It will be interesting to see if there is any retribution sent his way.

jerry from forest park  

Posted: February 22nd, 2014 1:41 PM

Observer, I understand alright, your comments started out as people bashing, end of story. There was no table flipping here, just you pointing fingers and not liking when you are called on it. On a different note your comments on the the Park Dist were good and I happen to agree with you, they really blew it.


Posted: February 22nd, 2014 9:01 AM

@ reason to flip tables over this..I will try and explain in a way that you can understand ;) My commentary is not one dimensional, sometimes when I "weigh" in, I comment directly on the content and force my opinion, other times I hope to facilitate dialogue and yes, I use sarcasm to nudge the others..When I see B.S. I call it out, plenty of that here..not to mention hypocrisy, pretense & duplicity..another tip for ya..No one is forcing you to read this or engage in debate here ;)

jerry from forest park  

Posted: February 21st, 2014 8:49 PM

Observer, I did notice that you never wieghted in on the issue at hand, your remarks are totally personel. I could care less if you know who I am and since you don't do Face Book I guess your comment are so much White Noise also. Or maybe you are confused.


Posted: February 21st, 2014 7:37 PM

@ Jerry, sorry to disappoint you, not a clue who you are and I do not use Facebook, it's so cluttered with those that admire themselves in the mirror, my Grandparents & people that still have lunch & recess ;)

jerry from forest park  

Posted: February 21st, 2014 5:16 PM

Observer, I think you know who I am, not that I care. I notce you use facebook all the time, right.

Bill D  

Posted: February 21st, 2014 3:33 PM

Now, now, Jerry, be careful, you minion, you. As the Talking Heads famously said, "stop talking sense."

jerry from forest park  

Posted: February 21st, 2014 8:54 AM

Well Dizzy, since you can't read I did mention that I felt the 25 million was a bit much and still do. As for bashing the village, if you think buying existing parking lots, houses and apartment builds is vital to the village then your name really fits you. You are one of those who would spend the schools money just because it is there and then cry how bad things are when it is gone.


Posted: February 21st, 2014 8:48 AM

@ Dizzy...I don't know if Jerry is a double standard guy? He does partake the nectar from the FPF, they whisper to him, so who really knows how confused he is ;) Now, if he was a bona fide Facebook verified person..I would certainly pay more attention to his white noise! ;)

Dizzy Lizzy  

Posted: February 21st, 2014 12:35 AM

@Jerry, might you explain how you reckon with the school district holding on to so much money well before any plan at Betsy ? Further how do you equate bashing our village for spending money on need things and say its bad, yet, you say its ok for the school district? are you another double standard person?

jerry from forest park  

Posted: February 20th, 2014 5:57 PM

We Need, I don't disagree about the 25 million, that is a bit much. What I disagree with is we have spend the money because we have it. Because they had this money they were able to make the improvements at Besty Ross. What you appear to be suggesting is we have the money let's spend it willy nilly. I saw the village do this and now they live paycheck to paycheck.

We need a smarter school board... from Forest Park  

Posted: February 20th, 2014 2:11 PM

Jerry, really? Do you truly disagree with what I wrote? I wouldn't have thought that from you. It befuddles me that you (or anyone) would be OK with them banking millions (over 25 million in fact) of our tax dollars while arguing that putting sprinklers in the schools is too costly. And, lord knows we need cops at these schools. What ever happened to the DARE officers?

jerry from forest park  

Posted: February 19th, 2014 4:47 PM

We need, your right. Your comments are nonsense.

We need a smarter school board from Forest Park  

Posted: February 19th, 2014 10:55 AM

What a lot of nonesense.Too much time wasted on idiodic ideas. Let's talk sensible ideas like the School paying the PD for a cop to be present at ALL schools. We need it and I know the cops cannot afford the extra Police. Our school system has literally millions of our tax dollars sitting in a bank doing nothing. MILLIONS! No lie. We should insist they use the money on the safely of our kids. SPRINKLER ALL SCHOOLS & PAY FOR SOME COPS or give me back my $ instead of paying inflated salaries.

jerry from forest park  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 1:55 PM

master, what are you the master of, dumb remarks The reason there mirrors that cover all sides of a bus and a crossbar is kids tend to do the unexpected. Try reading up on it, even with these devices in place school buses injury more kids than passing cars. That being said, cars that are stopped aren't going to hit any one. Then you need to concider it is against the law which prerry much covers it don't you think.

The master from Forest park  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 12:09 PM

Good. Whyshould traffic be halted for a bus load of kids to walk off the bus onto a curb? They've always made such a big deal about stop arms and kids crossing the street, no ones crossing the street Just more bs.


Posted: February 14th, 2014 9:46 PM

If the cameras generate a reliable revenue stream they aren't deterring stop sign scofflaws. If they deter stop-sign-scofflaws, then they won't generate a reliable revenue stream. So it makes sense that RedSpeed would have been paid with a fixed monthly payment. Perhaps their marketing materials, I mean data, were geared to sell the reliability of the revenue stream. As nicely pointed out in the article, that argues against it's usefulness as a safety measure. Time to collect some more data!

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 4:16 PM

"This, bottom line is about the safety of the kids." Once again, Tom Mannix has spoken publicly on an issue, and the truth is, once again, in the opposite direction. At least the guy is consistent.

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