New district app will allow students, parents to track bus location
By Brandi Makuski
The Stevens Point School District this month unveiled its new school bus app.
The Smartphone app, which is available for iPhones and Android, has functioned as a GPS locator for district buses since the start of summer school. According to Brad Carriveau, the district’s transportation manager who was hired last year, the system should have been in place “a long time ago”.
“It’s streamlined things tremendously,” Carriveau said. “We’re ahead of schedule; routes are posted already. We may have some changes, so people will need to keep checking, but we’re doing well.”
In the past, families have had to notify the district if they plan to have students ride the bus to and from school. This year, Carriveau said, students already in the district’s student information system through Skyward will be automatically added to a bus route.
“The only time they need to use the bus information form is when they have a babysitter’s address or alternate schedules,” he added.
The new busing system was implemented last December, he said, so the district has “plenty of time” to work out any problems.
The new system also allows for better efficiency for bus drivers, Carriveau said. In years past drivers had to follow two different sheets — one with a map, one containing lists of student names — and combined with constant changes in bus routes, made for a lot of frustration on the drivers’ part.
Now, he said, drivers get one set of paperwork, and in the future he plans to go green by assigning drivers a tablet with all the information they’ll need for each route they drive.
But also new this year are slimmed-down and combined bus routes to allow for better efficiency.
“We had buses that we only had 12 kids on,” he said. “That was not efficient, and it was costing taxpayers money.”
The change will lengthen bus rides for some students, Carriveau said, but the move was necessary to improve costs in his department. That puts “eight or nine” buses on standby at the district’s transportation building, he added, but there’s no plans to unload the extra buses.
“You never know when a bus is going to breakdown,” he said. “We always want to have a backup, because we’ve been tight in years past.”
The changes Carriveau made to bus routes brought in a large chunk of extra cash for his department, he said, which was redirected to fund the new software.
The new system brings with it an initial price tag of $80,000 and an annual fee of $29,000, largely going towards cellular data costs which provide GPS.
The software is interactive, according to district leaders, with bus routes and real-time bus locations available to parents both online and via a smartphone app.
The previous software used was only about two years old and cost the district about $10,000, but it’s not working well due to the size of the district, which is approximately 400 square miles.
The new app can be downloaded at pointschools.net under the “transportation” tab.