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District acquires bus tech system

The Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District has adopted a school bus technology system -- Bus Guardian developed by the CalAmp company -- to help manage the threat of covid-19 among bus riders.

Bus Guardian helps with contact tracing, hygiene verification and driver wellness checks. The software and hardware system enables a school administrator to create instant reports of each student's bus ridership history. Additionally, the enhanced trip inspection module tracks bus hygiene activities across its fleet.

"We are always looking for the best ways to improve student safety and improve the way we serve our community," said Barry Hickingbotham, the Jacksonville/North Pulaski district's transportation director. "We recognize how this technology can keep students safe and improve our transportation efficiency."

In addition to Bus Guardian, the school district has adopted a school bus tracking app, Here Comes The Bus. The app was developed by CalAmp's subsidiary, Synovia Solutions, and serves about 300 school districts across North America.

Jacksonville will equip 45 school buses with the fleet-tracking technology. The school district's bus fleet traveled nearly 2.5 million miles during the past school year.

The school district is also investing in other features and software to improve operating efficiency, according to district leaders. Those include:

• Time and attendance, which enables drivers to clock-in remotely at their assigned buses and receive real-time updates on their routes throughout the day.

• Engine diagnostics, which monitors real-time engine and vehicle status as a way to help prevent breakdowns and expensive repairs.

• Pre- and post-trip inspection, which allows drivers to manage inspections from their in-cab tablets, minimizing paperwork and streamlining the inspection process.

Coding-contests registration near

The fifth annual All-Region and All-State Coding Competition sponsored by Verizon is coming up for Arkansas public, private and home-school students in grades 8-12.

This year's competition will include 16 simultaneously held regional qualifying competition events and a state-level competition. Registration is Jan. 4 through Feb. 5 for the regional events, which are to take place Feb. 26. The state competition is set for May 1.

At this time, the regional events will take place in person at various locations across the state. And the state competition is scheduled to be an in-person event in Little Rock. However, because of the covid-19 pandemic, backup plans to shift one or both of these events to an online version are being prepared.

Confirmed teams will receive notification of event locations and of any changes.

The competition, which has had more than 1,200 students participate in its first four years, is funded by $225,000 in grants from Verizon.

Each team member of the winning first-place team will receive a $2,000 award; second-place team members will each receive a $1,000 award; and members of the third-place team will each receive a $500 award. These awards will be provided as deposits into established 529 College Savings Plans.

Schools that sponsor winning teams will receive the following awards to support their computer science program: First place, $10,000; second place, $6,000; third place, $4,000.

More information is available at: This dedicated webpage will be updated as information is released.


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