App in Some Delaware Schools Helps Parents, Students Track Buses - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

App in Some Delaware Schools Helps Parents, Students Track Buses

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Waiting for the school bus isn't always easy for students on their way to school, especially when there's bad weather or a bus is running late.

But technology is giving students and parents some piece of mind in the Red Clay Consolidated School District in New Castle County. The district has been using an app called "WheresTheBus," which allows smartphone users to track the location of school buses using GPS.

Red Clay Transportation Director Kelly Shahan said there's a number of reasons why buses might not be running on time, including traffic, breakdowns, and even drivers getting lost.

"No longer do we have parents trying to get to work, trying to wait for the bus, or call us and being put on hold while we try track down the bus or students calling us from their bus stop waiting for their bus," she said.

Shahan said the app allows her to constantly keep track of buses and their locations. If a bus stays stationary for too long during a layover, Shahan can notify a driver.

Additionally, Shahan said the app allows her to follow up on complaints more easily and use data to substantiate or refute claims.

Could the system come to other schools in Delaware? Bruce Ashby, the transportation supervisor for the Capital School District, said it would be helpful because students hailing from urban, suburban, and rural areas branching from Dover to Hartly.

"In your rural communities, a lot of times that's where you have an influx of times due to the weather," he said.

Gregg Tulowitzky, the head of transportation for the Delaware Department of Education, said he'd like to see the app used statewide, but paying for it is an obstacle.

Using data from the rollout of WheresTheBus at a single school district in Georgia that had more buses than the entire state of Delaware, Tulowitzsky believes it could cost millions of dollars to every school district in the state and the process wouldn't be quick.

"Nineteen districts and all the charter schools that are all involved...it would take multiple years," he said.

But even in a tight budget year for Delaware, Capital School District Superintendent Dan Shelton said he was hopeful the app could be brought to other districts through the state education department.

Shelton said the app would help make school transportation more efficient and accountable.

"[Nowadays], you're calling somebody up on your cellphone saying "Where are you? You said you were going to be here at 8:30 a.m. and it's 8:35 a.m.," he said. "It's just a different world."

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