LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — A school district here recently agreed to a $1.2 million deal to upgrade its school bus radio system.
Scott Pfender, the director of transportation for Lake County Schools, told School Bus Fleet that the district will install the latest Motorola radio system on all of its buses, with the exception of the district's activity buses.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Pfender told SBF. “This is really a great opportunity for us to upgrade with a system that will allow us to get a full recharge all throughout the district, enhancing the district's transportation communication."
The Lake County School board, at its meeting on Monday, agreed to a five-year leasing plan for the school bus radios, in which yearly payments of $240,000 will be made to Radio One, the company providing the radio system.
Jimmer Roy, the safety and security specialist for Lake County Schools, told SBF the district plans to roll out the new system over the next six months, and will make the upgrades to each bus per bus lot.
For the first time, Pfender said, the radio system will allow school administrators to communicate directly with bus drivers.
“In emergency situations it will certainly be helpful,” Pfender said. "It [the radios] gives them the ability to talk directly to a bus [driver], instead of working through main dispatch and us making a radio call out."
However, Pfender said, there will need to be protocols in place to prevent school administrators from interfering with dispatch calls to drivers from the transportation department.
As for training to use the new radios, Pfender said the systems are largely similar to what drivers are currently using, and little to no training will be required.
Lake County Schools operates 325 school buses, and provides transportation services to 42 district-owned buildings.