State College

State College school board allows audio recordings on district buses, vehicles

The school board approved a policy to allow audio recording in State College Area School District buses and vehicles by a 6-3 vote.

Board members Ann McGlaughlin, Laurel Zydney and Jim Pawelczyk cast the dissenting votes.

Pawelczyk said he would vote no during the meeting, because he wanted more information to determine whether or not audio recording in school buses and vehicles was a necessity.

Those who voted in favor of the policy cited an ability to further protect students that may be bullied.

Board member Dorothea Stahl said during the meeting that the school district has a responsibility to use every tool available to make sure each child is safe and secure while they are in the school district’s care.

The new policy came as a result of Act 9 of 2014, which amended the state’s Wiretap and Electronic Surveillance Act to permit audio recording on school buses and vehicles.

Previously, only images could be used for student discipline and police investigations.

The school district must annually notify parents of the policy and must clearly label that audio is being recorded in school buses and vehicles.

The board also unanimously approved a request for a $2 million Alternative and Clean Energy Program state grant.

The matching grant would be used for the State High project to make the new building Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Ed Poprik, the school district’s director of physical plant, said LEED certified buildings have varying levels of sustainability and energy efficiency.

He said the new State High building would, at minimum, be LEED silver certified.

“LEED silver, gold and platinum certified is just a delineation for the level of sustainability and energy efficiency the building has,” Poprik said.

“Now, this is just a hypothetical and actual numbers, but let’s say maybe a LEED silver certified building saves 20 percent on energy whereas a LEED gold certified building saves 30 percent on energy. Basically, it means less operational costs for the building.”

The board also announced it would discuss bending Plaza Drive, which currently connects to the Westerly Parkway Plaza, to instead connect to O’Bryan Lane during their Sept. 22 meeting.

Poprik said during the meeting that traffic counts will occur at the existing intersection and potential intersection today, Wednesday and possibly Thursday to be presented to the board.

The board will then vote at its Oct. 13 meeting whether or not it wants the State High project’s core team to pursue a new Plaza Drive.