News Column

Parents can follow children to school via GPS

July 24, 2014

By Joyce Russell, The Times, Munster, Ind.

July 24--PORTAGE -- Parents here will be able to follow their children to school this fall without ever leaving the comfort of their homes.

They'll also be able to track their child's school bus as it makes its journey home, knowing precisely when the child has been dropped at the bus stop.

This past year the Portage Township Schools purchased GPS devices and software from Synovia Solutions of Illinois.

GPS devices were installed on all 110 of the district's buses, said Transportation Director Tanya Corbett.

While the devices will allow district officials to keep an eye on the fleet, help manage routes, monitor fuel efficiency and assist with payroll, the software will go one step further.

Corbett said parents soon may log on through the parent portal on the district's website. They can create an account using their child's distinct identification number.

Once on the site, the parent will learn the child's bus number and where and when the bus will stop each morning and afternoon.

They will also be able to monitor their child's bus via computer, tablet or iPhone to see where the bus is at any particular moment, if it is running early or late and when it is expected to be at the bus stop in the morning or afternoon.

The program will show when the bus arrives at school each morning and when it departs on the return trip in the afternoon.

The program was tested during summer school, said Corbett, allowing issues to be ironed out before school begins in August.

"It is really going to help a lot. We get a lot of calls from parents saying their child's bus hasn't gotten to the bus stop yet," she said. If parents monitor the bus, they'll have their answer without placing the call.

"We will know the exact location of every bus at all times," she said, adding the transportation office will be able to track buses on regular routes as well as on field trips or trips to other schools for extra curricular activities.

It will also allow transportation officials to reroute buses in case of traffic issues, said Corbett.

Dave Harman, director of support services, said it is the district's hope the program will continue to evolve.

They'd like, in the future, to establish the system so that it would text parents if their child's bus is running late, said Harman.


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Source: Times (Munster, IN)

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