October 24th, 2007

EHT school board OKs radio deal for buses

By Michelle Lee
Press of Atlantic City

The Egg Harbor Township Board of Education voted 7 to 1 on a contract to channel music inside the district’s 150 buses.

The digital radio systems would be supplied by Bus Radio, a private company based in Neeham, Mass. The three-year old company has radio systems installed in 120 school districts across the country, including California, Florida, Ohio and Texas. In New Jersey, the systems are in Gloucester Township, Camden County and Woodbridge, Middlesex County.

The company produces hour-long radio shows targeting elementary, middle and high school students. In addition to songs, the shows contain public service announcements, safety notices and eight-minutes worth of commercials. The system also includes an AM/FM radio, “panic button” for emergencies and a Global Positioning System, which can be activated for a “nominal fee,” Clint Frost, the Northeast regional manager for Bus Radio, said during a presentation last week.

The equipment, installation and maintenance are free and funded by commercial revenues, a portion of which is shared with the school districts. In a recent interview, Bus Radio President Steven Shulman said the Egg Harbor Township School District could get about $5,000.

Board of Education members Neil Anderson, Pete Castellano, Frank “Jay” Kearns, Brian Murphy, Mary Anne Spiker, Barbara Szilagyi and Vice President Doris Dilley voted for the system. Board member Jack Haines voted against it because he was concerned that “nothing is for free.” Board President James Galvin abstained because his wife is a bus driver.

Superintendent Philip Heery said it is a good way to add technology to the school district. He noted that if the system does not work out, the school district could terminate the contract with 30 days notice.

Szilagyi said the company would install the radio systems by December. She said she looked forward to having the students enjoy the programs and she hoped it works out.

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