, Salem, MA

October 10, 2013

Don't tell the kids: There's an extra camera on school buses


---- — PEABODY — School Business Manager Dave Keniston let the cat out of the bag on Tuesday night when the question of security cameras on school buses was raised. He corrected a previous statement that there are five cameras available — provided by the bus company as part of the existing contract — on 23 buses. “There are six,” he said. And they can be rotated from bus to bus.

But that’s not all. All the buses have cameras, he revealed, and the secret is that some are real and some are dummies. Thus, it’s sort of camera roulette for kids who might be up to no good.

The real cameras have already been put to use, Keniston said, “to disprove an allegation.” He did not elaborate. Meanwhile, the advertisement is out for the two roving bus monitors the system hopes to hire. And yes, they will be real bus monitors, no dummies.

Alphabet soup

If you’ve noticed the tendency of educators to use obscure acronyms along with their education jargon — it’s almost a secret code — well, you’re not alone.

“I need to get a job with the department of acronyms,” sighed veteran school board member Dave McGeney after getting confronted with the PDPs (Professional Development Points) during a discussion of the ELLs (English Language Learners) being addressed by SEI (Structured English Immersion).

“PDPs,” said McGeney, “I don’t even know what that means.”

“Get a scorecard, Dave,” advised colleague Beverley Griffin-Dunne.

McGeney later explained that the board has received some help on understanding education acronyms from the administration. “Twenty pages of nothing but acronyms.” Additionally, lists of educational acronyms are available online for those frustrated education language learners (FELLs).

Otherwise, hope for subtitles.

Talk gets down to turf

Mayor Ted Bettencourt was late for Tuesday’s school board meeting. He had a good excuse, said member Griffin-Dunne — discussions about finding funds for the proposed turf field at Peabody High School were ongoing.

Does our city look fat with these buildings?

Yes, the city of Peabody wants you to tell it how it looks. Honestly. Don’t hold anything back.

It’s a step in the downtown economic development plan, according to city planner Blair Haney, and you can get your 2 cents in by going online at and looking at a variety of images — old Peabody buildings, new buildings in cities like Plymouth and Nashua, and new Peabody buildings. Finally, you’ll be asked to rate them all on a six-point scale from -3 to +3, the same way you might “like” your best friend’s embarrassing party pictures on Facebook.

“This will help inform our consultants on what recommendations to make,” Haney said in a press release. Then, everyone’s invited to a meeting at the South Branch Library on Oct. 22 in order to ask questions and discuss the results.

Same old stand

Yeah, you’ve heard a lot of talk about changing the voting locations. Well, don’t be fooled. It hasn’t happened yet.

“There is no change in polling locations,” City Clerk Tim Spanos said.

He also reminds voters that if they haven’t registered for the Nov. 5 city elections, including candidates for mayor (unopposed), City Council and School Committee (unopposed), you have until next Wednesday, Oct. 16, to do it.