Recently, at Tyler Connect, I was lucky enough to meet with many more of Tyler’s clients and talk with them about the challenges they face and the success they’ve found with our products. I am always excited to hear about the innovative ways that districts are using technology to solve problems. Here’s a great story about one district that was having trouble getting kindergartners and other young students on the right bus on their first day of school.
This client told me that, over the years, they’ve dealt with challenges in their communication with bus drivers and parents. The district consistently had issues with kindergartners getting on the wrong bus on the first day of school. The client I spoke with, a router for the district, told me, “I remember when we first started working in the office we had to make hand bracelets. We typed up all the kindergartners’ names [and bus information] and created bracelets for them, but even that didn’t help because we really didn’t have lists for drivers, or the information for them to know who the children were. We did try our best to give them a list of kindergartners but frequently children would get on the wrong bus. It’s very traumatic, for the children and for their parents.”
This router had a really interesting take on this problem. She told me that the reason the district worked to find a solution wasn’t just that it was difficult for the student to discover they’ve made an error. She told me that it was “because our accountability kept increasing, and still continues to increase through the years. Parents are asking for us to have more information for them and to allow them to know where their children are and that they are getting to school safely.” I know that I’ve spoken to many student transportation workers who feel that their biggest challenge right now is in providing parents and districts with the kind of information that makes them feel that their students are safe during 100% of their ride to and from school.
So the district took steps to improve communication. They used their software to create and print “bus cards” for each of their students. The bus cards, which are handed out at the beginning of the school year, tell each student which bus they will ride, and when and where they will be picked up and dropped off. Drivers are provided with updated lists of the same information. And the district also gave district front office staff the ability to view student bus stop data. If a student has a question, the front office does not have to call the transportation office to find the answer. They can access the information themselves, and even hand-write a new bus card if a replacement is needed.
Since implementing this program, the district has seen huge improvement in communication with students, parents, drivers and staff. This client told me that the bus cards have had a huge impact: “The teacher knows, the parent knows, the bus driver, everyone knows exactly where that student is to be at any given time. This makes for a much safer ride for our children. And it really helps with the behaviors on the bus. Bus drivers know who their kids are — they get to know them much more quickly because they’re always checking those bus cards and looking at them — and I think they have much better communication with the parents because of it.”
It’s great to know that these students are safe, secure, and won’t have any embarrassing stories to tell about how they never made it home after their first day of school!