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GFW board hears bus video presentation

GIBBON — The Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) School Board heard an informational presentation on automatic vehicle location systems (AVL) and video cameras for school buses Monday.

Rich Enga presented information from Saucon Technologies on AVL and video seating systems and related technology.

“I always advise using videos on buses,” Enga said. He said Sauk Rapids school district buses use the program.

“We’ve had a few (bus) incidences on buses where it was hard to put things together,” said Superintendent Jeff Horton.

Board member Marisa Lee said she thought the school district had video cameras on buses. Horton explained that the cameras were no longer used.

Enga said the cameras used on buses years ago lasted about five years.

Using web-based interface, vehicles are tracked and monitored wirelessly. AVL uses fleet GPS capabilities with graphical mapping, vehicle tracking, scheduling, arrival forecasting and operational reporting.

A system called Zonar does live GPS tracking with remote access cameras and routing software of where students get on and off buses.

First-year costs range from $19,900 to $60,256 and from $5,750 to $16,766 per year thereafter.

Horton said the school district has some one-time money that could be used to purchase the technology. In addition, he said the projected school district savings were conservatively estimated at $33,000 a year.

The board unanimously approved, motion by Marissa Lee, second by Jason Haas:

• The retirement of JoLynn Hahn, Connie Portner and Chris Clobes and bus driver Jerome Pelzel, all effective June 7.

• Creating a new board development committee, motion by Lee, second by Casey Prochniak. Horton said the committee could be used to help create events like a school board retreat, possibly for a weekend at another location.

• Accept a recommendation submitted by designated board representatives who heard a Level III employee grievance, and issue grievance denial.

• Recognizing the Fairfax EDA for its behind the scenes work on things like the sale of the former Fairfax school building and offering free utilities for months, Horton said.

“We closed on the property and transferred it,” Horton said.

In his report, Horton praised the GFW Schools for offering 50% of school district students and alumni $215,000 in scholarships.

Horton said the school district hopes to allow people to participate in high school graduation set for 11 a.m. Saturday, June 5, at the junior/senior high school.

“This is the first time I could see your faces without (face) masks. It’s nice to see your smiles,” Horton said at the end of the board meeting.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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