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Bus Stop Notifications To Be Unveiled In Benton

BENTON – Imagine that your child is riding a school bus, and from behind your desk at work, you receive a text message that he or she has boarded or gotten off the bus safely. For the parent’s generation, it sounds like something out of The Jetsons, but it could soon be a reality for those who have students in the Benton School District.

Student Connect is a Georgia based company that has implemented RFID technology that will allow a student to carry on their backpack a key, and they will swipe that key when they board the bus. After program has identified that the child is safely on board, it will send a text message or an e-mail to the parent or guardian. Notifications will also be sent when the bus is within five minutes of the child’s destination, and when the child leaves the school bus.

Benton School District Transportation Director John Thompson says there will be no cost to taxpayers or district patrons, as the costs of the program are funded by corporate sponsorships. Superintendent Jeff Collum says the sponsorship dollars are already coming in, as the Arkansas Travelers baseball program is the first advertiser to sign up.

“When you’re transporting several hundred kids daily, there are a number of opportunities for mistakes.” Collum said. “What this system does is allow us to mitigate problems and errors. It’s a sigh of relief.”

In attendance at Monday’s press conference was Andre Fluellen, defensive tackle for theDetroit Lions. The Cartersville, Georgia native is volunteering his services as a spokesman for Student Connect, and says the program is somewhat representative of the world that we are living in today. “For the schools, it is an added level of safety. For the parents, it is an added level of peace of mind. For the corporate sponsors, they get to actually pay for safety in our schools. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and we are all working together with this program to help.”

Of the twenty-three buses currently in service within the district, three buses will receive the service in the beginning. Collum says he hopes to have the trial and error phase past the district quickly, and is hopeful “the kinks will be worked out” in the coming weeks.


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