Harmon outlines district’s ‘to do’ list


By Melanie Speicher - [email protected]



SIDNEY — A list of “to do” items was presented by Sidney City Schools business operations manager Jerry Harmon during Monday night’s board of education meeting.

Harmon said he is updating the asbestos program’s documentation.

“I’m also checking on the EPA concerns,” he said. “This includes radon testing and water testing.”

Harmon said he, Jason McLain and Beth Ratterman are reviewing the district’s service contracts. McLain is the director of food services for the district. Raterman is the business operations secretary.

“We want to get the best price for the school district,” said Harmon. “We’re looking at the scope of service (to the district).”

Harmon said there are also roofing projects underway at three of the elementary schools. He’s also conducting an audit of the district’s needs.

“The mechanical contractor did an audit of the control systems in the elementary schools,” said Harmon. The systems are so old, he said, that replacement parts can’t be found. The contract will be able to take the district through the steps for a state program which will assist with replacing the systems.

“When I came on 30 days ago,” said Harmon, “there were 70 open work orders. There are 26 still open and each has a completion date assigned. Most will be done by Nov. 30.”

Harmon said he is meeting with the maintenance department very two weeks to discuss projects they are working on.

A tree at Emerson Elementary was removed for safety reasons, said Harmon. Another one at the school will also be removed. A stump removal project in the district is underway with 70 stumps to be removed. Three trees in front of Longfellow Elementary School will also be taken down because they are damaging the sidewalks and roof.

One project, said Harmon, which can’t be delayed is replacing the gym floor at Northwood School. He said he has received estimates from a few people and it could cost $85,000 to replace. The old wooden floor would be removed, filled with concrete and smoothed down. The type of covering will be chosen before the project begins.

Joni Renner, transportation coordinator, discussed the need for a new camera system on the district’s buses. She said there are three cameras on route buses that don’t work. There’s one without rear audio.

Renner said Pro-Vision gave a demonstration of their software and cameras. Two cameras would be on each bus with a third one on the outside. It is an eight channel system, which means it could hold up to eight cameras, said Renner. It’s HD/wireless, has zoom-in capability, a GPS route history, the ability to mark out student faces and has a five-year warranty.

The cost, she said, would be $1,833 per bus. The district has 19 buses so the total cost would be $34,827.

Board member Paul Heins said bus cameras are needed because of liability issues such as fighting on the buses.

Bob Smith, board member, questioned the security of the district’s children if the buses have GPS tracking and video footage of all children getting on and off the buses.

“Is the system secured so only we can access it?” asked Smith. “What will keep the buses secure from being hacked? There’s a balance between security and convenience.”

Smith said if the outside camera uses a cable it would be more secure that if it’s wireless.

In a followup email Tuesday, Smith wrote, “Based on the presentation, the new system seems to record both the GPS location of the bus as well as video footage of what’s happening on that bus. The system is also designed to communicate the collected information wirelessly (I assume Ethernet over Wi-Fi, but could be Bluetooth or something similar). If that wireless communication is not secure, it’s open to more than just the district staff pulling the stored data. GPS locations provide a map to the houses of ever student we bus … not only that, but, when married up with the camera footage, you now have a face to go along with where the student lives. Before I can be comfortable with the new system, I’ll have to be comfortable with how this communication is being secured.

“It’s easy to build network communication into a system. It’s much, much harder to secure that system while still making it easy to use. This has been a conversation in the computer security world for a while now, but was highlighted by last month’s DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack against DynDNS,” wrote Smith.

Renner said she would ask those questions of the Pro-Vision company. Superintendent John Scheu, Tuesday morning, also asked Smith to directly email his concerns to the company representative.

Harmon said he would like to get the process started in December to purchase the camera sytem.

By Melanie Speicher

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.

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