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School Bus App Catching On Among Ohio County Parents

School buses are seen parked in this undated file photo.

WHEELING — The parents of almost half of Ohio County’s students are already logged in to newly introduced software which notifies users when their children’s bus is rolling up to the bus stop.

Ohio County Schools Manager of Operations David Crumm said the county reported that 1,100 riders out of around 2,300 were being tracked through the Edulog Parent Portal Lite app. According to the company, that’s a great showing for the new software. That represents around half the students in the county. The app was launched over the summer.

Crumm informed the county Board of Education Monday evening that, already, the response from the public has been very positive, particularly in the number of calls to the board office and to bus drivers as to their whereabouts, and in parent presence at bus stops for younger kids.

“The amount of phone calls on where the bus is have gone way down, and the number of parents that are not at the stops … has been minimized,” he said.

“We have over 1,100 of our riders being followed by the app, that’s a little (less) than 50% of our riders. There are 700 unique users. … This year, we have around 2,300 riders, so that puts us at around 50% of our riders being followed, which, in talking with Edulog, are very good numbers for just getting started.”

The app sends push notifications to alert guardians of the imminent arrival of a child’s bus, while internally also tracking details such as mileage and the need for maintenance.

Board member Molly Aderholt said that being notified of when a bus is arriving is a boon for parents.

“It’s good at our house, because I can say ‘He’s not here yet!’ and sprint down (to the bus stop), so that part of it’s been very effective.”

While the Lite version of the software is currently in use, Crumm anticipates the full version of the software being implemented sometime in February. The obstacle to overcome, he said, is to synchronize map data through Google with the addresses provided through the schools, which is provided by school personnel, which doesn’t always line up 1:1 with expected formatting.

“The process that we’re going through is, as we pull information from (the West Virginia Education Information System) and what’s available, Google Maps and the address, as it’s entered into WVEIS do not always match up,” he said. “We have to go through those individually and then place them, or find how Google lists them, as compared to how it was entered by a secretary or principal at the school itself.”

Crumm, as well as two other administrative staff, are working to coordinate that information, as well as the minutiae of where each bus stop is located — a particularly picky process with regards to intersections, he pointed out.

“It’s a tedious process to do at first, but once it’s up and running and all the stops are input, that’s where things become much smoother,” he said.

Internally, Crumm said he was personally pleased with the software, which has streamlined parts of the maintenance process with the buses themselves.

“Our transportation department, down at the bus garage, is able to get on and see if there’s a bus that’s having problems somewhere. They’re able to track and see which bus, pull information on how the battery’s doing, milage, the upkeep of the bus itself,” Crumm said. “It’s been very handy.”

Once the system is fully up and running, Crumm said, Edulog will work with the school district to conduct a study on how to best optimize bus routes with the number of riders. That information would be useful in considering a change of school start times.

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