ROCKFORD (WIFR) – With about 28,000 students in the Rockford Public School District, it’s sometimes hard to know where every child is, especially those that ride the school bus. The District now has a new GPS system that’s helping them keep tabs on bus riders.
It’s a new sound on District 205 elementary school buses this year. A GPS system that checks in students.
“As the student enters the bus, they swipe their card past the unit, it identifies the time they checked on the bus and when they’re back home at night, it checks the time they get off at night,” says Transportation Director Gregg Wilson.
It’s a more efficient program in case a student gets on the wrong bus or if there’s some other confusion.
“If the child wouldn’t get off, let’s say they fall asleep, it literally can go from our office here, if a parent calls and we can say the child is on the bus,” said Wilson.
Veronica Montoya helps monitor the system at the transportation center. Her child also rides the school bus.
“We as working parents always wonder did my child get on the bus in the morning? Did they go to the sitter’s in the afternoon? This way with this program, we can look and see what time they get on in the morning and what time they get on in the afternoon," said Montoya.
The unit also shows the speed of the bus and where and how long it stops.
“We’ve used it where parents call in and say the bus didn’t stop we can go in and look and say ‘you’re right, it didn’t stop’ and we’ll get the driver back there or we can say yes, the bus stopped there and it stopped for 40 seconds," Wilson said.
In addition to the GPS units bus drivers still manually check in students. Kids have their names on those swipe cards as well as color-coded wrist bands to match the number and color on the bus.
The district hopes to eventually expand this program through high school and use it for athletics and other activities that utilize school buses. The GPS system cost nearly $340,000 but the district hopes to eventually save money by reducing the time buses sit, which would cut down on fuel costs.