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Lansing School Bus

Lansing School Business Administrator Kate Heath reported Monday that the district is considering updating its school bus communication system, and that the district is hiring bus drivers.  Heath reported to the Board of Education that the radio communications system the Transportation Department is using hs aged, and is not providing reliable connectivity.

"When I met with the supervisors one of the things that came up was the bus radio system," she said. "It's old and outdated.  There are some areas within our district where connectivity is really low between the buses and the bus garage via the radio system, just because of low spots and various areas that are hard to reach using that equipment."

Heath said she is exploring a switch to the Tompkins County radio service that is used by emergency responders and other municipal departments, including the Lansing Fire Department.  Not long ago the Lansing Highway Department made a similar upgrade to its radios in order to take advantage of the County's narrow band service.   In 2017 Highway Superintendent Charlie Purcell estimated his department could upgrade to the new radios for about $50,000.

That upgrade was motivated by former Highway Superintendent Jack French when he told the Lansing Town Board in no uncertain terms that the town was not prepared to handle emergencies.  He cited the failure of the radio system to keep him in touch with his crews during a severe rain storm, especially when he was in the Salmon Creek valley.  He also said that without a backup generator his department and the Lansing Fire Department could not fuel their vehicles, because the pump at the Town Highway Barn is powered with electricity.  Today the radios are installed and connected to the County system, and an emergency generator was also recently installed at the Highway Department.

The school district would need enough new radios for all of its buses, plus vans and other vehicles used to transport students, as well as a radio for the bus garage.  Heath said that due to the cost, a new system would likely have to be phased in.

"The service itself is free, but the hardware is expensive," Heath said. "I know other districts have been slowly replacing equipment. We're going to start looking at a plan, what that would look like, and what those costs would be for the next several years."

She also said she is trying to get the word out that the school district is hiring, not just bus drivers, but other positions as well.

"Staffing continues to be a little bit of a challenge for Food Service, Transportation, and Buildings & Grounds," she said. "We're constantly looking for new candidates for cleaners, drivers, and food service workers.  So we're trying to get that message out there that we are hiring for those positions."

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