School officials in Brunswick County are working to keep up with their students even out of the classroom. Students at Union Elementary in Shallotte will be the first to take a trip on a bus outfitted with Global Positioning System, or GPS. Each student will carry an identification card that will be scanned when they get on and off the bus. This will let officials know that students and buses are in the right place at the right time. Brunswick County Transportation Director Bobby Taylor said, "We are very excited about it. To be able to effectively and efficiently route, and know where our buses are and keeping our buses online and on course of what we are doing with transporting the most precious cargo we actually transport in North Carolina." Mr. Taylor said the GPS will come in handy in the event of an emergency, like an accident or lost child. School officials will be able to access information online about which students are onboard. Union Assistant Principal Vickie Smith said this is technology that can put parents at ease. “It means safety and it means information for our students and their parents. Because now if a parent calls and a child hasn't gotten home from school yet and our buses are running a little late we'll be able to go into the computer and track them and tell them exactly where their child is,” said Smith. While administrators like the idea, the GPS system is getting mixed reviews from parents. Concerned parent, Sharon Milliken said, "I think a school official should know at all time where that school bus is at. They got cell phones now and they could do it like that. They don't have to have the GPS where you can take and track a child that way." Tracy Purcell, an elementary school parent said, "It's a great idea so that they can track them if anything happens." The $250,000 price tag for the GPS system will come out of the Brunswick County school budget. The district hopes to have GPS installed on every school bus by the end of October.
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