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SCC offers AmberVision service to local families

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education New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

Parents of kids in the St. Croix Central School District will soon have another way to protect their children.

The school board voted 6-0 on Monday night to subscribe with AmberVision, a system that aims to recover missing children. The service is free to the district but parents must pay $6 per child to enroll in the service.

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Families who are eligible for free lunch can access the service at no cost.

AmberVision isn't designed to compete with Amber Alerts, a Department of Justice program used during the most serious child abductions.

"They are two separate things but they do work together," said Keith Rumpza of AmberVision.

What sets AmberVision apart is that it gets a high quality, current picture of a missing child to law enforcement quickly. Photos of the child are made into 3-D avatar images that can be displayed on squad cars' laptops or smartphones.

No sensitive information is required to enroll in the program, only a photo and description of the child is needed.

Should a child go missing, law enforcement officers can access the current picture and description of the child to aid in the search.

The contract AmberVision presented to the board stated that the fee was $12, with the district getting $6 in return. Most districts direct that money to public safety programs, Rumpza said.

However, SCC board members balked at the money the district would get in return for providing the service to parents. Since districts are asked to provide the company with vouchers for students in the free lunch program and allow computer access to those without Internet, AmberVision typically shares a portion of the fee with them.

"If it was just $6, I'd support it," stated board member Kay Zwald, explaining that the service could become costly for families with several school-age children. "If we don't have to charge them, then why do it?"

Board member John Hueg agreed with Zwald.

"I don't like kickbacks and I don't like hidden costs," he said. "We don't need a kickback."

The contract will be re-written to reflect the cost change to $6.

Parents may choose to enroll their children or not. Forms will be sent home with the students when school starts. For more information about the service, visit www.ambervision.org.

In other news:

• Community Education Director Paulette Anderson told the board that the new class schedule is available on their Web site, www.sccce.com, and around Hammond and Roberts. The first round of classes begins in mid-September.

• Students and coaches participating in the summer weightlifting program at the high school reported that the program was successful. New equipment was purchased to make the weightroom safer and more efficient, thanks to donations from all the booster clubs and the school district. Cost of the new equipment was about $10,000; about half was covered through donations.

• High School Principal Glenn Webb reported that lightning struck the high school on Saturday, Aug. 8, the same day a tornado touched down just north of Hammond. The lighted sign outside the building and 14 lights in the parking lot were zapped, but are now in working order. Webb said he was checking with the building's insurance company as to the deductible for the incident, should the lights need to be replaced.

• The contract for bus driver Jennifer Pearce was terminated by a 6-0 vote. District Administrator David Bradley said Pearce wasn't answering calls and allegedly told other bus drivers in the district that she wouldn't be back.

"We were totally satisfied with her but she's not around and she's not going to be back," Bradley told the board.

Steve Sanders, transportation supervisor, said he and bus garage supervisor Brian Pederson have been trying to contact Pearce all summer with no result.

• The next regular St. Croix Central School Board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, in the Middle School Library, 1295 Vine St., Hammond.

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