Palm Beach County School District prepares to pilot bus tracking app
cbs12 NEWS | By Amber Taub | May 18, 2023
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — As the Palm Beach County School District’s school year approaches its end, the district is preparing to roll out an app that will help track where the bus is and whether your kid got on the bus.
The ‘Here Comes the Bus’ app will send parents notifications about how far away the bus is or if their child’s bus is running late.
According to the district’s transportation COO, Joe Sanches, right now they are working with the app vendor to add more security levels that will help protect sensitive information.
“That’s one of the most important things to make sure that only the right people have access to that information. So this is happening right now, and we’re going to be rolling out a pilot very shortly,” said Sanches.
The district will start piloting the app this summer with school district employees’ children.
“We’ll test that out over the summer. And then hopefully by August we’ll have it rolled out a little bit further, but over the course of the fall will be rolling out to the to all the parents,” said Sanches.
Kevin Christian with the Marion County, Florida School District said they implemented the app last year and have about 75% of families signed up.
“The app is doing exactly what it’s designed to do. And that’s sharing information with parents to make them more informed. I think it reassures parents that we are on top of issues,” said Christian.
Christian said the app not only helps parents, but it allows the district to track buses and which kids are on board.
“For us, it helps with our accountability. But certainly, for parents, it’s more information readily available at a moment’s notice. People like information and they like having it in their hands. And that is what this app does, it makes real-time information available to them. So they can see where their child’s buses are and have a better understanding of when that bus is going to either pick up their child or drop off their child at the end of the day,” said Christian.
Palm Beach County mom, Marli Martins says the app will give her and other parents peace of mind.
“We had an issue last year a couple of times. And it was very scary. We didn’t know where the bus was. Parents got very scared. I call the police I call the school I call the police. It was a very traumatic event,” said Martins.
“Every little bit of good news. You know where your kids are and what they’re doing. It helps you,” said parent Samuel Vazquez.
“I wish they would’ve had something like that when my kids were younger,” said parent Nongruk Velanger.
Sanches says this district is working to make sure the rollout is as smooth as possible for parents and students. He says if everything goes well, the plan is to start rolling out the app in district schools come fall.
“We’re going to have a slow rollout in come August. So August 10, don’t expect it to be functional for all 55,000 students. There’s going to be, a rollout to make sure that everything’s working, get some feedback, and then roll out a little bit further. So yeah, so it’ll be coming to a school near you,” said Sanches.
Sanches says he hopes the app will reduce some of the phone calls the district receives from parents each year.
“We get a lot of phone calls at the beginning of the year, you know, Where’s the bus? Or where’s my bus stop?” said Sanches.
He says the first step to receiving these notifications is to let the district know if your child will be a bus rider, register through the district’s parent portal, and then download the app.