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The Fremont Public Schools Board of Education approved funding for its share of an emergency radio project that will provide new two-way communication radio systems at all of the school buildings between Fremont Public Schools, Archbishop Bergan Catholic Schools and Fremont Trinity Lutheran Schools.

The board voted during its monthly meeting on Monday to move $24,988.44 from its depreciation fund to cover the remainder of the district’s share of the cost — the rest of which was covered through grant, donor and Fremont Public Schools Foundation money.

The project aims to put a base station radio in the office spaces at each school building, while providing handheld two-way radios to specific administrators and staff at all three school districts. The idea was first envisioned by Kevin Kavan, Fremont Public Schools Coordinator of District Security.

“It was approached as a community-wide emergency radio station,” said Cliff Huss, Fremont Public Schools director of information services.

The radios will improve communication within the building.

“These radios will provide better communication than what they use,” Huss said.

The system will also provide communication between the buildings and during special events, like track and field days. The radios will also bring upgraded emergency situation communication, Huss said.

“We’ll actually be able to communicate in emergencies between [Fremont Public Schools, Bergan and Trinity], as well as being able to communicate with first responders in certain situations,” Huss said.

The radios should also present a more reliable form of communication during natural and man-made disasters.

“What has been experienced is cell phones and normal desk phone communications fail when those major catastrophes happen,” Huss said. “The desk radios have battery backup, so we’ll have a time frame where we’ll be able to use them beyond a power outage and we’ll be able to maintain communication between the buildings for a time frame, even if we don’t have power.”

For Fremont Public Schools specifically, the project will replace base stations at 12 sites in the district. Those sites are currently housing base station sites that were put in 17 years ago. The district will also be purchasing 33 handheld radios. Johnson Crossing, the Middle School and High School have already been using the radios that the district will purchase, and will not get new radios.

The project will cost $101,296.53. Fremont Public Schools was initially responsible for $59,913.09. Bergan was responsible for $22,989.09 and Trinity was responsible $18,394.35.

But the Fremont Public Schools Foundation has been working to find donations to cover as much of the cost as possible, helping to secure a $25,000 “Last-Dollar” grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation. The FPS Foundation also found “donor-advised fund donations” that covered the remainder of the cost for both Bergan and Trinity.

Last, the Fremont Public Schools Foundation provided another $10,000 to help bring Fremont Public Schools’ cost down, leaving the district with a balance of $24,988.44, which was the amount approved during Monday’s meeting.

Installation is expected to begin this summer.

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