Last week, the Panther Valley School Board agreed to purchase 32 cameras and six audio recording devices for school buses.

The cost for the equipment is $10,770.

Only school board member Roy Angst was opposed to the purchase.

School board President Jeff Markovich said the equipment includes "added security" measures, but would not say what they were.

Kistler Transportation, which owns the buses, has agreed to reimburse the district for half the cost, or $5,385. The cost will be paid through the district's maintenance budget.

This is a great, worthwhile purchase by the school district. It has the potential to, in the long run, save the district a lot of money in defending lawsuits and other court actions.

Consider:

Ÿ In Penellas County, Fla., three 15 year old students beat up a 13 year old on the school bus. The bus driver didn't intervene, but did radio for assistance.

Many school buses are driven by senior citizens who would stand no chance against three out-of-control teenagers - especially if they have weapons.

Ÿ Three adults are in legal trouble after getting on a Lowndes County, Miss. school bus and confronting the driver.

Investigators say the trio was upset because a child had been dropped off at the wrong school and his lunchbox was missing. Video footage on the bus shows Roy Rice grabbing the driver's cellphone while he, Anita Rice and Malia Ferguson confronted the driver.

Ÿ Two women are accused of boarding school buses in Darlington County, S.C. and getting into arguments with elementary aged students.

The incidents happened on the same day, but are completely unrelated, according to the Darlington County Sheriff's Office.

Cameras helped school officials in all three cases.

You hear instances on the news every once in a while of assaults - especially against mentally challenged students; fights, thefts, and even sexual misconduct on school buses - not necessarily locally but in general.

The main job of the bus driver is to operate the bus safely. If something happens that affects his duties, it could jeopardize everyone on the bus.

With cameras, there will be an extra set of eyes on the bus to help if an incident should occur.

The main thing is that parents who have children riding the buses know that there is an additional element of safety because of the cameras and monitors.

There's no question that $10,770 is a lot of money to spend. On the other hand, our children are priceless. The $10,000 is a small price to pay for additional safety.

We're sure any parent or grandparent who has children riding on the Panther Valley buses says "thank you" to the school board for agreeing to the purchase.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com