RUNNELLS, Iowa – Southeast Polk Community Schools is seeing positive reaction to an app that tracks school buses each day.
The district started using “Here Comes The Bus” app in January. The software is designed to show parents a radius of where their child’s bus is.
Southeast Polk Community Schools Transportation Director Dan Schultz said parents cannot see an exact location for safety reasons.
“They say parents can see a bus going. The bus is a general area. It’s not the actual area of that school bus, because we don’t want people that are unauthorized to be able to track that exact location of that school bus just to protect anybody that would be on it,” Schultz said.
Schultz said over 2,100 parents are active on the app.
Runnell’s Elementary Daycare Tammy Gaudette said she’s been using the app since it rolled out.
“I love, love, love the app, because I can tell on snowy days and rainy days when to send the kids out, because I can see the bus coming so they are not standing out there in the rain and in the snow,” Gaudette said.
The app gets its information from a GPS that is located in every school bus. It will send a notification to a parent or guardian when the bus is getting close to the child’s bus stop.
“Drivers have been really, really good about trying to accept the challenge. They have extra steps they have to do, and they put that in on their pre-trip where they have to sign on and make sure they are getting all signed on so the parents will know ‘oh my bus has started,'" Schultz said.
A parent or guardian will download the app for free and insert a password followed by a student ID number. The general public cannot access the information.
Gaudette said the software is useful, especially during severe weather.
“We don’t want the kids standing out at the bus stop for very long. We are out on country roads, so we don’t have sidewalks. It’s really important to keep an eye on the kids, keep them safe and know that we are not going to send them out. The bus is running late. Let’s hold them back in the house for another 15 minutes until the bus is almost there,” Gaudette said.
Schultz said it costs the district $20,000 each year to have airways open for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Des Moines Public Schools began using “Here Comes the Bus” for the 2018-2019 school year.