Bus tracking program being tested in Garden City

Local

One Kansas school district is testing new technology designed to let parents know if their child missed the bus or got off at the wrong stop.

Officials say it’s designed to track the kids’ movements on school buses.

“When a student gets on, they’ll walk by a scanner,” said Charlie Stillian, the transportation director for USD 457 in Garden City. “They’ll scan the card. A light will light up green or red. If it didn’t read, it’ll light up red.”

Officials hope to work out the kinks this semester and roll it out district-wide in the fall.

One of the goals is to make sure parents are in the loop.

“Through the use of an app the parents will be able to find out ‘Did my get on the bus? Did they make it to school?’ They’ll be able to know when they got off the bus at their home,” said Stillian.

The district can also send alerts directly to specific parents.

“If a bus goes down and we have to send a spare bus out,” said Stillian, “we can let the parents know this bus is not coming out, but it’ll be this bus today.”

Erin Gitau has a son at Pymell Elementary, which is one of the schools currently piloting the program.

“I thought it was a good idea,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to know when the bus is going to show up, because there has been at least once or twice when the bus has been late.”

While she thinks it’s a handy tool, she doesn’t plan to check the app every day.

“I think it’ll be a situational thing, especially with weather, because we live in southwest Kansas and the weather is extremely unpredictable here. Like yesterday it was 75, and today it’s cold.”

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