POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Polk County public school classes start next Monday and the district is adding some new safety features. 

  • Buses will now have emergency radio systems 
  • Parents will be able to track if a bus will be delayed or time of arrival 
  • Mother of deceased teen hopes the radio systems will help 
  • MORE Polk County Headlines

All of the district’s hundreds of buses will have new emergency radios. All bus drivers will have to do is push a button on the radio to connect with a 911 operator.

“With this radio it bypasses everybody, goes straight to the sheriff’s 911 center and we can deal with the emergency right away,” said senior coordinator Scott Reeves.

The $6 million radio system was prompted in part by the 2018 death of 14-year-old disabled student Terissa Gautney. She died after having a medical emergency on a school bus.

Bus workers didn’t have a quick way to call for help. 

Gautney’s mother Denise Williams was very happy the new system was put in place. ‘To do it at the beginning of the school year is just phenomenal. They moved really fast,” she said. 

The district also has a room full of workers taking calls from parents with questions about bus routes. The special phone line will be open until August 23. 

All of the buses will have GPS systems so that parents can find out if a bus will be delayed and its arrival time during the often chaotic first part of the school year.