13 Jun

Clients in the News: Northwestern Consolidated Schools of Shelby County - Fairland, IN

TC schools implement new bus route software

Posted: Friday, June 10, 2016 

By ROSS FLINT - rflint@shelbynews.com
ShelbyNews.com  - Shelbyville, IN 46176 

A new software program will allow the Northwestern Consolidated School District to create and manage bus routes for students in the upcoming school year. 

Transportation Director Susie Childress told the school board the software, called Transfinder, will help create and manage routes more efficiently. 

The software creates the routes after each student is assigned a pick-up and drop-off spot. 

In addition to finding the safest places for students to be picked up and dropped off, the software also manages any road or bridge closures, she told the board. 

She and Director of Technology Josh Landis attended Transfinder University, a three-day training program that teaches clients how to use the program, in March. 

Since then, they’ve met with the training manager every week to go over some of the topics needed to build the routes. 

The elementary school uses 14 routes and the middle and high schools use 15. There is an additional route for special needs students. 

Childress and Landis were given the assignment of geocoding students, which means putting the students’ locations on the map to create the routes. 

The students will be assigned where they will be picked up and dropped off, and the routes are based on those points. 

Most students are picked up at home, but some who live on cul-de-sacs or in neighborhoods have a designated spot, Childress said. 

The school district was not able to use the new routes in time for the 2015-16 school year because the project started midway through the year. 

They anticipate being ready for the upcoming school year. 

There were 400 unassigned students, Childress said said. 

Those students are incoming kindergarteners and fourth-graders who are moving up to the middle school as fifth-graders. 

Those students will be assigned a route for next year. 

“Once that is complete, we then have a product that will be very beneficial for our schools,” she said. 

In addition, the software improves communication with parents. 

In the past, bus drivers were instructed to call each family on their stop to inform them of when and where the student would be picked up for the upcoming school year. 

Now, parents should be receiving a post card informing them of the bus number, what time their child will be picked up and where. 

The software also allows for substitute drivers to have printed out directions. 

“Eventually, we will learn how to optimize our routes,” Childress said. 

“That’s in the future. 

That’ll be in the next year. We will learn how to optimize our routes so that they are the most efficient we can run.” 

She doesn’t anticipate the bus routes to change very much for the upcoming school year.