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Attention Middletown Area School District students: This school year, expect Big Brother to be watching and listening.


The Middletown Area School Board is expected to consider a policy at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 25 that would allow audio taping on school buses. 


Middletown has had video taping capability on all school buses for several years now, said David Franklin, district assistant superintendent for finance and operations. But in February, Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation allowing Pennsylvania school districts to use audio recording devices on school buses as well.


The law says school districts must do four things to legally tape audio on school buses, said Steve Robinson, spokesman for Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA).


First, a district must have an approved policy governing the use of audio taping. Second, a district must notify students and parents of the use of audio taping on school buses by letter each year sent to the student’s home.


Third, notification that audio taping is being done must be posted in a “clearly visible” location on each school bus. Finally, audio-taping can only be done on school buses when the buses are being used for a school-related purpose, Robinson said.


Franklin said that under current district practice the video taping equipment is in use all the time whenever students are in the school bus for a school-related purpose. The same will be true of audio-taping – it will be on all the time, Franklin said.


The purpose of audio-taping – as well as videotaping – is to give the school district another tool to find out what happened if an incident occurs in a school bus that needs to be investigated, Franklin said.


The district contracts with a company for student transportation. The capability to do audio-taping as well as videotaping already exists on all school buses that are used by the district, so there will be no additional expense to the district to start audio-taping, Franklin said.


The administration presented the policy for first reading during a meeting on June 23. The proposed policy can be found on the district Web site by going to board meeting agendas for the June 23, 2014 meeting:


Other local school districts have approved their own policy or are drawing up a policy.The Derry Township School Board approved a policy on June 23 that allows for audio-taping on school buses used by the district. “We have had video monitoring on our buses for quite some time,” said district spokesman Dan Tredinnick.


The Harrisburg School Board approved a policy in 2012 that provides for the use of audio recording on school buses.


The Lower Dauphin School Board is working toward approving a policy that would allow audio-taping on school buses, said Jim Hazen, district spokesman.


The Steelton-Highspire School District did not respond to a request for comment.


Robinson said the PSBA isn’t tracking how many school boards have moved forward with audio-taping on school buses since the legislation was approved, though “we have been getting a lot of calls” from school boards asking for information on the issue.

PSBA has not taken a position on whether school districts should have audio-taping on school buses. The association considers the matter a local decision, Robinson said.

Dan Miller: 717-944-4628, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 19:04

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THE DRILL IS GONE: Big $300,000 rig is stolen from Middletown site




It’s big, black and gray and worth more than $300,000. Have you seen a drill rig stolen from a work site in Middletown?


The rig and a flatbed truck, used for work on Amtrak railroad tracks in the borough, were taken between July 11 and 14 from a staging area at Wilson and Grant streets, according to Middletown police.


The equipment is owned by L.G. Hetager Drilling of Punxsutawney.


The drill is a 2005 Acker self-propelled drill rig, gray and black in color. The truck is a 2006 International tilt flatbed truck valued at $69,500, teal and white in color with a black bed, police said. At the time of the theft, the truck had a Pennsylvania license plate, number AE17586.


A reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the theft is expected to be offered through Crime Stoppers, police said. Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call Middletown police at 717-558-6900.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 19:58

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SLOW DOWN? Traffic study could lead to reduced speed on Main Street


mainstreetpic7 30 14Press and Journal Photo by Dan Miller - Main Street at the intersection of Spruce Street

Middletown police have been directed to do a traffic study on Main Street that could lead to some big changes on the street – including a possible reduction in the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph.


The study would also be a necessary first step toward implementing two other changes that are being sought by Mayor James H. Curry III. 


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 20:00

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FREE-WHEELING: In Middletown, an effort to share skateboarding with autistic kids

skateboardingphoto7 30 14Press and Journal Photo by Noelle Barrett - Children with autism learn how to ride skateboards at Hoffer Park.

A slight breeze rustled Andrew Taylor’s long-sleeved shirt as he glided down the macadam path, his feet planted on a skateboard. He had never ridden one before this sunny Sunday in Middletown’s Hoffer Park – yet it felt somewhat natural, and at that moment he was just like his friends, just like any other 9-year-old boy.


But Andrew is different. He has autism – though he’s certainly not alone. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Andrew is 1 in 68 children with autism spectrum disorder.


There are hurdles and challenges, but they aren’t barriers.


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 19:36

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Borough seeks replacement for Wilsbach

Middletown Borough Council authorized Borough Manager Tim Konek on Monday, July 21 to look for a new electric department supervisor to replace Greg Wilsbach, who resigned effective July 10.


Council’s public works committee recommended that the borough hire a new supervisor at $55,000, said Councilor Robert Louer, the committee’s chairman.


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 19:24

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