PORTAGE | Portage Township Schools will look to outfit all school buses with GPS units.
Director of Support Services Dave Harman said the idea isn't new. The district already has GPS devices on 40 buses. But officials want to expand it to the entire 104-bus fleet.
The project, he said, will provide data to help the transportation system become more efficient.
The units will be able to track buses in a real-time nature. That could help improve route efficiency and timeliness of stops.
"This will allow us to look at how our buses are doing, how we can manage the fleet better," said Harman. He said tracking the information on the 40 buses now equipped with GPS units also helps in managing idling time of buses.
"Drivers are doing an outstanding job policing themselves (in regard to the idle policy). This will allow the drivers to take a more active role in saving money for the district," he said.
In addition, within 18 months, portals for principals and parents can be added. In each case, the parent or principal can, via the Internet, track their school's or child's bus to know when it is running late.
There is also the potential of having a telephone application available so that parents can check on their children's bus.
In addition, employees will be able to use the system to log in their work times, automatically stockpiling the data, eliminating paperwork and data entry for payroll.
Software also will be available, he said, to provide student bus manifests, which will be a particularly important resource for substitute drivers to make sure they are picking up and dropping off the right student at the right spot.
Harman said the district has had a seven-year relationship with Synovia of Indianapolis and is recommending to the board at its Monday meeting to enter into a five-year lease/purchase agreement with the company for about $230,000. The funds would cover the necessary equipment, service and cloud-based software.