Tucson Unified School District will spend $680,000 to outfit its fleet of 320 buses with GPS navigation systems.

The Governing Board unanimously approved the five-year contract at its meeting Tuesday night.

It is estimated that a change in practice that will result from using GPS will yield a savings of $300,000 a year, by ensuring that bus drivers are being paid for actual hours worked.

Currently, drivers are paid based on the estimated time it takes to drive a route, even if the reality is that it takes less time.

The use of GPS is also expected to result in more efficient routing, provide the district with confirmation that drivers have made their assigned stops and monitor engine performance and idle time, said Paul Larson, TUSD's director of transportation. According to industry statistics, 1 in 3 school buses is now equipped with GPS, Larson said.