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Hall school system considering new bus technology
Clay Hobbs, assistant transportation director for Hall County Schools, talks about new school bus technology Monday night to the Hall County Board of Education.

Parent worries about the school bus not dropping off their child at the usual time may eventually become a thing of the past in Hall County Schools.

The school district is looking at new technology on buses that would, among other things, enable parents to check the bus’s location via a computer app.

Also, the system, Tyler Drive, basically a touch-screen tablet mounted at the bus driver’s seat, would give bus route directions — especially handy for substitute drivers — and reroute drivers as needed around accidents and other potential hazards.

“It’s a tremendous solution if it does the things that we’ve been told it will do,” Superintendent Will Schofield told the Board of Education Monday night.

“In terms of keeping up with buses, (officials can find out) how fast they are going, where have they been, why has a bus gone off the route,” he said, listing some of the system’s uses.

“It’s just useful management information, and it looks like some real potential solutions to the some of the challenges we’ve had for as long as we’ve had school buses.”

Schofield said he talked to district transportation officials several months ago about potential technology upgrades.

“There’s a lot of technology out there that UPS uses, FedEx uses, that all the major transportation lines use,” he said.

Operations director Jewel Armour said the school system is considering first trying out the technology on a few buses.

If the district proceeds on the effort, the cost would be $1,000 per tablet in the first year, then $300 per year, including unlimited data, said Clay Hobbs, assistant transportation director.

“It comes across as a relatively pricey upfront cost,” Schofield said. “But the cost savings that I can imagine (would be) in terms of efficiencies and routes, safety and driver satisfaction. It would be an incredible tool for drivers and parents.”

“A lot of districts don’t know about this yet,” Hobbs told the board. “I didn’t know about it (until) we started this search. I think you’ll see that something like this will be commonplace in the future.”

“This is a relatively new program,” Schofield added. “But it is not new technology.”

One big advantage to the system is that it would dovetail with the current route software.

“The data is already there,” Schofield said.