Parents and students in Milton next year will be able to track school buses from their phones with a new app approved by the school board.
The school district’s transportation provider GO Riteway has developed an app called “Where’s My Bus?” that allows users to see in real time where the school bus is and whether the bus will be late, early or on time, according to a school district memo.
The school board approved contracting with GO Riteway for the app next year with a 6-1 vote. Brian Kvapil cast the sole opposing vote.
The district will spend $7 per bus per day—an estimated $36,540 a year—for GO Riteway to install and maintain equipment on the buses, according to the memo.
Kvapil said he did not think the app was worth that much money because most high school and middle school students have cellphones and can let their parents know where they are when they are on the bus. He asked Director of Administrative Operations Jerry Schuetz if they could outfit only some buses with the technology to cut costs.
Schuetz said he believes the buses are rotated between schools so there was no way to outfit only buses that go to elementary schools.
The app would be valuable to the 2,200 district families who use busing services, Schuetz said.
In inclement weather, the app would allow students and parents to watch where the bus is so students don’t have to wait long outside, Schuetz said.
The app will let users know when there are delays, which will prevent a flurry of phone calls to the district, Schuetz said.
It also would help parents during “critical” circumstances such as school lock downs or early releases, when the normal transportation schedule is interrupted, Schuetz said.
Using technology to communicate with families has been important to the board and administration over the last five years, Schuetz said in a district memo.
Board member Karen Hall said she could see it being beneficial for families. She often sees parents post on Facebook about late or early buses, and the app could cut down on worries being spread on social media.
Board member Rick Mullen said he could see the app being popular. He asked Schuetz whether the app could be used when students are on the bus for after-school activities.
Schuetz said he thinks it would be available for after-school activities, but buses can only be seen on the app when the buses are within the district’s designated geographic range.
District officials are not yet sure if the app will be available on Android phones, iPhones or both.