Pearl River County School Board approves new bus radios

Published 7:00 am Friday, June 14, 2019

After much deliberation, the Pearl River County School District’s Board of Trustees decided to approve the purchase of a new radio system for the District’s buses to use.

During Thursday’s meeting, District Transportation Director Lisa Beech put forth a request to purchase the new radios, which would work off the state’s MISWIN system installed after Hurricane Katrina.

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The reason for this change was multifaceted, with the main talking point being dead zones experienced by bus drivers while using previous systems.

These dead zones were said to range in severity from 50 to 20 percent depending on the provider, creating a potential danger Beech said.

Beech then went on to talk about a few situations in which a better system would’ve been beneficial, the most concerning occurrence being when a bus full of children encountered a man brandishing a knife while on foot.

Beech said that in that incident the previous radio system between the buses and administrators malfunctioned, and nobody was able to get in contact with each other.

During discussion of the matter, she was asked to clarify concerns with ownership of the radios themselves.

Beech said the District would own the radios, but maintenance of the towers is conducted by the state. Her suggestion was to purchase the new radios for 40 buses, while also providing 4 handheld radios that could be used in mobile situations.

The cost of this will be significant, the current estimate being $107,154.60, but Beech said the safety of the children and drivers are of the utmost importance and worth the investment to ensure the children are safe and to quickly rectify situations when a child is on the wrong bus.

“We don’t lose the children,” Beech said jovially.

“We just misplace them from time to time but we always have them and they’re always safe.”

Beech said the state maintaining the towers is good thing because it means any maintenance and repairs of the towers would not be the responsibility of the District.

Beech added that another positive aspect of the system is that while it is private, in emergency situations emergency personnel can connect to the system and be in communication with the drivers.

For more on Thursday’s meeting, see Saturday’s edition of the Item.