New system tracks school bus routes

Published 10:23 am Thursday, July 14, 2016

JACKSON – The Northampton County Board of Education approved a new contract during its most recent meeting with school bus safety in mind.

Synovia Solutions, a GPS tracking system for school buses, will make bus travel even safer and give parents more information about their child’s bus. Administrators will be able to track buses in real time and will be able to immediately pinpoint the location of any school bus.

Executive Director of Auxiliary Services Doug Miller said the contact is for less than $32,000.

Miller said Synovia Solutions offers the school system greater efficiency for administration, greater safety for students, and more peace of mind for parents.

Miller said he is most excited about the system’s safety features. Parents can track buses in real time on their computers or smart phones.

Parents can download a free app, which will tell them exactly where their child’s bus is located.

If a situation arises, parents can contact school officials who can then safely text the bus driver with instructions. The texts can only be received by bus drivers when the bus has come to safe stop.

For example, if a parent has to leave home before the bus will arrive, through school personnel they can tell the bus driver to drop their child off at an aunt’s house, or an authorized neighbor’s home.

Parents without internet connectivity or who do not elect to use it can simply call the school to find out exactly where their child’s bus is located.

In addition, Miller said Synovia Solutions makes the bus system more efficient. Now, bus drivers must fill out time sheets by hand, which then have to be entered into the computer for payment.

Synovia Solutions will cut out the middle man by recording into the computer payroll system when drivers start and end their days. Miller said this will save many man-hours of work, freeing up staff to do other things.

Bus routes will also be made more efficient thanks to Synovia Solutions, Miller said. By tracking each bus’s GPS actual route, the school district can tweak it to save time.

Miller said this is very important for the upcoming school year because high school-age students from the east end of the county will be on longer routes to the west. Northampton Public Schools has closed the high school campus in Creeksville. The county’s high school will be located in Gaston.

“We would like feedback from the public when school starts to see how our parents like Synovia Solutions,” said Miller.