Schools Spending to Save?
The Columbia County School Board spent $60,000 on GPS devices and technology. The county says the new tools will keep kids safer and its almost paid for itself.
Donna Baker has been driving a school bus for 16 years. Although she's a pro, she knows what it's like for a substitute driver on an unfamiliar route to depend on first graders for directions.
"You're just not sure about where exactly you are going to," says Baker.
That was the main reason the school board invested in the devices in the first place. But later, school officials realized the devices could have a much bigger payoff.
Kenny Bethea is in charge of putting the 40 GPS devices into use. He's using application tools to consolidate and shorten routes... saving on both maintenance and fuel costs which really adds up over the course of the 1.7-million miles Columbia County buses drive every year. Plus, a more detailed analysis at one elementary school showed where he could eliminate one route entirely.
"If you take into consideration of the driver and maintenance on the bus and fuel, that's probably $40,000 estimate that we've saved," says Bethea.
Bethea says as he analyzes the rest of the county's 13 schools, the GPS devices may pay for themselves. He says the only negative is that inputing the routes and each bus stop into the system is a time-consuming process.
But bus drivers won't have to rely on directions from first graders any longer.
"I think it's great and I think it will be a lot of help," says Baker.
The GPS devices are just being given to substitute bus drivers for now, but plans are to buy 50 more to outfit the rest of the 90-bus fleet with them next year.
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV20 News
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