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Ohio County School buses to get GPS software

WHEELING — Parents and bus drivers will have an extra layer of depth to their students’ bus rides, starting next year, with the integration of GPS systems into their bus routes.

Ohio County Schools Director of Operations David Crumm discussed the prospect at Monday evening’s board meeting, getting the board’s approval to go ahead with the Edulog route management software. The software, Crumm said after the meeting, has a number of benefits for the district, its drivers, and parents.

Through an app, parents can ask to be notified when their child’s bus enters a certain radius around their house, alerting them that they will soon be needed to pick up their student at the bus stop. At Monday’s meeting, Crumm said parents being absent from bus stops was a perennial problem.

“One of the things we (make) a lot of phone calls for is, ‘We’re trying to drop a child off and nobody’s there,” Crumm said. “… This app provides parents the ability to know when it’s coming to their areas. That would help our secretaries, principals, the operation center, the parents — they can set a circle, and when the bus enters that circle, they get an alert — ‘Your child’s a mile away.'”

The software would also be useful in optimizing bus routes, as new students can be automatically added to the software, and bus routes adjusted to include their new pickups. The bus drivers also benefit, Crumm said, by having the ability to print a copy of their route and provide it to substitute drivers if one needs to fill in.

“We can go to that bus driver’s route, hit print, and it’ll print out exactly what the substitute driver will need to do,” he said. “It’ll have turn-by-turn directions, stops, stop signs, and all that stuff will be right there.”

Crumm gave a timeframe of around six months to integrate the system into their bus fleet of around 43 vehicles. He said Thursday that they may be able to get the software online by the start of the fall semester, but if not, certainly by Christmas break.

“My goal is working with Edulog to be able to start this by the beginning of next school year. It’ll be great if we could, but if not, I could see us possibly doing it at Christmastime, but I’d like to do it, if at all possible, by the start of the school year.”

Crumm said the district was looking at a cost of $60,000 for the first year to install and maintain the system, and a subsequent annual cost of $40,000. The board unanimously voted Monday to approve moving forward with the system.

“As a parent, the GPS, I would find incredibly useful,” Board President David Croft said, a sentiment that was echoed by superintendent Kim Miller. “It seems to make sense, from the bus drivers, to the parents, to the kids.”

“I’m looking forward to getting everything up and running, and getting access to another piece of information that will simplify the lives of our Ohio County Schools employees, and the families who have their students with Ohio County Schools,” Crumm added.

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