ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Board of Education approved a GPS fleet management system for the district’s 80 buses during a regular meeting this week.
Bladen County School’s Public Relations Director Valerie Newton said the system was installed in eight buses as a pilot program.
“It is a multi-faceted system. It will give our transportation department a big picture of how our bus fleet is operating,” said Newton.
She said that there are several components to the system that contribute to maintenance as well as safety concerns.
“This is a core GPS standard tracking system for buses so that we know at all times where a bus is,” said Newton.
She said some of the features of the system include the system’s ability to monitor engine performance, monitor fuel usage, comparative analysis on planned routes versus actual routes driven, and a time and attendance function whereby the bus drivers clock in and out through the GPS system.
“It gives us real time information on students such as when they board the bus, when they get off the bus,” said Newton. “This enhances student safety.”
She added the system also has the ability to tell if a student is getting off the bus at their routine location or if they are getting off the bus at a different location.Newton said there is a component whereby parents can sign up to receive text alerts regarding their child’s bus such as if the bus is running late.
The cost for the system is about $30,000 per year, said Newton.
“We are estimating the savings based on all of the components, but the two major ones being engine diagnostics and time, as well as attendance components,” said Newton.
The savings to the school system is estimated to be about $180,000 per year. Newton anticipated the system will be installed all of the districts buses over the next few months. She said once the installation of the system is completed, parents will receive notification to sign up for the text alert system.
In other business:
— The board approved 17 fundraisers for the coming academic year.
— The board approved a written agreement between the school system, the American Red Cross and the Bladen County EMS regarding emergency shelters. The board also changed the primary emergency shelters to East Bladen High School, West Bladen High School and Bladen Lakes School. The original primary shelters will now become designated as secondary shelters.
— The board approved a school-parent compact which is an agreement between the schools, the parents and students outlining the responsibilities of each, said Newton.