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Huntington school board addresses cellular dead zone

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

Huntington County Community School Corporation’s (HCCSC) board members unanimously approved a nearly $48,000 project to install infrastructure at Horace Mann Elementary School (HM) that would improve cell phone reception.

In the past, board members and HM staff looked into improving reception at the school, but after this year’s active shooter training at HM, HCCSC officials noticed the need to improve the issue.

“We have an issue at Horrace Mann, as a lot of you know, it is just an absolute dead zone. It first came to my attention… during our first day when we had the active shooter training,” HCCSC business manager Scott Bumgardner said. “We were texting 911 and also calling 911 as part of the drill, and we simply could not do that. We could not send or receive texts.”

Board member Kevin Yarger said no body at the school received the presidential alert earlier in the month.

Bumgardner recommended that the board approve a quote from J&K Communications, Inc. from South Whitley for $47,682.94 that would install the necessary equipment to improve reception.

“To set up our infrastructure, it does have some cost involved – some significant cost, but I am of the opinion and recommend to this board that we go forward with this project because I think it is very important that we do something about this issue at Horace Mann,” he said. “The other part is, I’ve also received a lot of confidence from the company that this will increase our connectablilty significantly or I would not be here tonight recommending this to you.”

Bumgardner said there would be additional costs in the future for equipment upgrades and maintenance, but he said those costs will not come close to the initial investment.

The board unanimously approved the decision, citing school safety.

“We understand that for what it is – there’s a little bit of a cost there – but it’s worth it to ensure the safety and be able to communicate in case of any kind of emergency over at the school,” Board member Reed Christiansen said. “Thank you for your work.”