LAFAYETTE COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - School bus drivers in Lafayette County, Mississippi are allowed keep cell phones with them for emergency purposes. But the county is rural and cell reception is not a guarantee. School leaders are trying to decide whether to switch to something more reliable.
"Safety is of the utmost importance to us," says Lafayette Superintendent Adam Pugh. He adds schools must be able to stay in touch with bus drivers.
"If a child becomes ill and we need to have an ambulance there if they're out on a route, things like that." It's the reason why drivers are allowed to have cell phones on the job, but use them for emergencies only.
"We had a parent that called and saw a bus driver talking on the cell phone," says Pugh. That driver was on a break, with an empty bus, but it started the county talking.
"It just kind of went from there," he says, on whether cell phones are the most dependable option. One topic Pugh has discussed is possibly adding radios.
"As with most counties, when you get out in rural places there's going to be dead areas. If our drivers are out there and cell phones don't work, then the radios could be a possibility, where you could reach them on all the routes we have."
The county has 2,600 students from elementary to high school, and more than 40 buses. Pugh admits a decision is long way off. "I've really not gathered any resources. It would be something nice to have," he says. "Right now not sure whether we can afford the radios."