PUSD Budgets $170K For Radios Due To New FCC Laws

The district said working radios are necessary for school safety.

Due to new Federal Communications Commission regulations, the Poway Unified School District has been required to spend a significant amount of money on new radios for the schools.

As of Jan. 1 this year, radio frequencies have changed, requiring "all existing Part 90 radio systems operating in the 150-174 MHz and 421-512 MHz bands have until January 1, 2013 to convert... to a maximum bandwidth of 12.5 kHz or to a technology that provides at least one voice path per 12.5 kHz of bandwidth or equivalent efficiency," the FCC website states.

Currently, all licensees must operate in at least 12.5 kHz efficiency and the Commission no longer allows manufacturing or importation of equipment that includes a 25 kHz mode, the site says.

At Monday night's board meeting, Associate Superintendent Malliga Tholandi said that the project to replace the district radios was part of an "emergency" project. 

The district says that several school sites are without internal communication capabilities, which is a safety issue during school hours and school activities.

"We came to the board for approval in December so we could contact the vendor to reprogram most of the radios," Tholandi told the board. "We didn't realize there were so many radios in our district—more than 1014."

The associate superintendent said that hundreds of the radios had to be replaced, and since this is a "safety issue," the district had to move fast.

"What we didn't foresee is that some of the radios were obsolete," Tholandi said. "Even though the reprogramming was done, there was so much static or they were hearing third person conversations."

Tholandi said that ones that had to be replaced were ones that had hard use or had been dropped.

"We had to do an emergency purchase. $83,400 was allocated for this," Tholandi said of a December decision to set aside the monies for this impending project.

According to the associate superintendent, the cost has risen to $99,000 but the district has a cushion of $170,000 budgeted for the replacement and reprogramming.

The funds come from the Property Insurance Account from the General Fund.

The board unanimously approved the emergency waiver of Public Contract Code to reprogram and replace radios at several school sites.

Babs February 15, 2013 at 10:33 PM
The bad news here is … 1. “the project [is] to replace the district radios was part of an ‘emergency’ project.” and 2. ”We didn't realize there were so many radios in our district—more than 1014.” What else does PUSD not ‘realize; about the district’s needs to which the voters have entrusted them to be good stewards? Why is it that PUSD can’t seem to understand their job and do it in a timely and efficient manner? Where is Collins in all this? The good news here ... no bond issue needs to be sent to the voters to pay for this, for now. Stay tuned, who knows, it just might appear on a ballot under the title, "PUSD did not realize its responsibilities, didn’t seek out all the information, relied on eternal experts so now it's a real emergency and after all it’s for the kids." Again?!
Joe St. Lucas February 17, 2013 at 07:31 AM
The FCC "usually" doesn't pull emergency everyone-must-stop-NOW directives. How long ago did this come out? (Ok, google is my friend). Ok, this has been known for years, even in 2011 the FCC was telling people that applying for waivers to extend their deadline will be like pulling hen's teeth. And yet, this is a EMERGENCY to PUSD? And they didn't know how many radios are in the district? Who are they taking their direction on accounting from, the state people who fund our state parks? This was a known problem, the radios could have been reprogrammed at their leisure last year. Oh, and in the future, if a radio gets broken when dropped, the droppee pays for it, not the taxpayer. Technically the T-Band radios were granted an extension in April 2012 and can still be manufactured for some public safety agencies.
Babs February 17, 2013 at 09:49 PM
Don't you find it pathetic that few, if anyone, seems to care about PUSD mismanagement of taxpayer funds? It seems more people want to snipe at one another over politics than care about their hard earned money. Anyone in industry who could have done the job correctly and didn't would be disciplined. Spending more than double ($170k) for a job that should have only cost $83k would be grounds in any company for firing or at the very least demotion in position and pay. Who is accountable for this? Why has there been no job discipline? Unless the taxpayers respond this bloated bureaucratic misbehavior will continue unabated. PUSD tolerates cost overruns and thinks nothing of continuing to mismanage taxpayer money without any compunction. Maybe it's time to clean house at PUSD management and staff and set objectives for fiscal responsibility.


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