During the June 13th meeting of the Pearl River County School District, Lisa Beech, Director of Transportation, addressed the board about the need for a new radio communications system for the district.
Beech stated that Hurricane Katrina caused a total loss of towers that had been used for radio communications. The systems that they have been using after the storm lack coverage in many areas of the County which led to bus drivers being unable to communicate possible dangerous situations.
The new system, known as MSWIN (Mississippi Wireless Information Network was designed with a simple, straightforward objective; get the right information to the right people, in the right place, at the right time. With this objective in mind, the MSWIN system uses a robust architecture with disaster recovery features that will provide reliable communications under extreme conditions such as hurricanes, ice storms, and floods.
MSWIN is a P-25 700 MHz LMR public safety communication system which is designed to provide 97% mobile area coverage statewide via multiple sites. MSWIN is the only statewide interoperable emergency communication voice and data network available for use by both state and local public safety entities.
MSWIN is designed to allow any manufacturer’s P-25 compliant radios to operate on the system.
Beech said that student safety will always be the top priority and the need for 100% coverage in their communications is of the upmost importance.
The new radio system will not only connect administrators to buses and school security, but also allows for direct communication to law enforcement and fire services.
Director Beech asked the Board for 5 handheld units for the schools plus 40 mounted units for all the buses in the District.
Each of the handheld radios will cost $1,600 and the mounted units will be $2,300. Total cost to the district comes to $107,154.
Finance Director T.J. Burleson said that the district is currently paying approximately $9,000 per month for the existing system and the new system from MSWIN will be a one-time purchase and the system will pay for itself over a 10 year period. Burleson added there is not a monthly recurring charge using MSWIN, just the one time purchase up front.
After PRC Board Chairman Elaine Voss was told that this would be an non-budgeted expense to the district, she went on to say that reliable communication was vital to the safety of all the school districts children and that she and the Board should view this purchase as justified for their consideration.
The Board voted unanimously to approve the purchase of the radios.