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Technology Super Users


Malissa Duran Operations Manager Orchard Farm School District, Mo.


How do you get buy-in from school bus drivers on technology adoption? “I always go about introducing new technology


Brice Sunderland and bus driver instructor Elenore Ramirez look at the timing of a route on Tyler Drive. The district implemented tablets last year and is ulitizing Tyler’s RFID cards this school year.


This new technology, he said, will help the


district manage where students are, what buses they are supposed to be on, and if they try to exit a bus at an incorrect stop. On the first day of school, Aug. 9, drivers handed out the RFID cards to the students as they boarded. Going forward, students scan their RFID card prior to boarding each day and when they get off at the school site. This is the same process when taking the students home in the afternoon. The district did not implement the accompanying parent app, but there are talks to do so in the future. In the meantime, the RFID cards will help the transportation department readily know where kids are at any given time, Sunderland added.


The plan is to eventually use the RFID cards


across the entire district, for library and food services and possibly even as an attendance mech- anism, where students would scan their cards as they entered school. “We [implemented] the tablets at the beginning


of last school year, and when we came back to school in April, we really had a chance to pilot [the technology] as much as anything else and the drivers fell in love with it,” Sunderland explained. “They had the opportunity to get turn-by-turn di- rections, they can check their kids and pictures of them and know who the kids are, and it just made it much easier for them.” Prior, Sunderland’s staff had to make paper cop-


ies for substitute drivers or take cell phone photos and message them. “Now, we can send it straight to them on their


56 School Transportation News • SEPTEMBER 2021


slowly and with emphasis on how it will help our drivers. I don’t start teaching them how to use the systems until I am sure they understand what the benefits of the system itself are. When they understand and are focused on how it will help them, they seem to have a little more patience with the learning process. For example, when we introduced Tyler Drive, I spent time explaining how they will have access to important informa- tion (allergies, medical data, emergency contact data, etc.) regarding their students. Not hav- ing all of that information had been a popular complaint for years. Knowing that this technolo- gy would solve that issue really opened up a lot of our drivers to learning to use the system.”


Technology used:


• Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (Collision Mitigation)


• Communications Systems • GPS/GIS/Vehicle Tracking • Onboard Tablets/Mobile Data Terminals • Stop-Arm Video Systems • Student Tracking/RFID/Parent Communication Apps


• Transportation Routing Software • Video Security Systems


PHOTO BY RICHARD HART


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