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Radios improve safety at Lakeview schools

Devices' signals extended thanks to repeater from fire department

Staff photo / Allie Vugrincic Lakeview Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade history teacher Sean Voorhies makes a call on a two-way radio Thursday at the school.

CORTLAND — Thanks to a donated radio repeater from the Cortland Fire Department, signals from radios carried by staff at Lakeview Local Schools are able to reach farther away, according to Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor.

Every one of the district’s employees is assigned one of the 130 two-way radios, Taylor said. The radios were purchased with a $38,000 safety grant through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, 75 percent of the total cost.

Though the radios were effective for communicating in the schools before the repeater, the coverage wasn’t up to par.

“That’s why we had problems with our bus drivers,” Taylor said. “Once they go on the other side of the lake, we can’t hear them.”

The Cortland Fire Department recently replaced their old radios with digital Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS) radios that did no longer work with the analog repeater, so the department donated the repeater — valued around $50,000 — to the school district. Taylor said the fire department got the repeater with a grant, and so it can’t be sold.

“It really was a nice gesture for them (to bestow),” Taylor said. “It has completely changed how much we can communicate over a greater distance.”

She said the district can now communicate with bus drivers in Ashatabula and Mahoning counties, where teams often travel for sporting events. Local police also are able to listen to the school’s radio and know who is making calls.

Taylor said the use of radios increases efficiency in responding to situations.

“I think it’s most important because, if you’re using — let’s say cellphones, which we were using up to this point — you’re talking one to one. With radios, you’re talking to everybody,” Taylor said. “You know what to expect, you know who is coming down the hallway, and you know what they need.”

The Lakeview Board of Education officially accepted the donation of the radio repeater at its meeting Feb. 10. The board also:

• Approved open enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year. Approximately 60 students are enrolled under the program now;

• Approved Taylor Pishotti, Kristin Lammers and Mary Beth Townsend as before-school tutors;

• Approved the following substitutes: Kellie Nero as a bus driver, Justin Kuti as a bus driver and custodian, Jane Jackson as a clinician at the middle school at $16.26 per hour and Toby Gysegem as a physical education teacher at the rate of $179.72 per day;

• Approved membership in the the Ohio School Athletic Association for the 2020-2021 school year;

• Approved three parental transportation contracts;

• Approved out-of-state travel for the senior class students in May to Splash Lagoon in Erie, Pa.;

• Adopted changes to the athletic code of conduct, including rules around “vaping” and a fourth-offense penalty for violations.

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