A new school bus-routing software is being put into effect in Groton, and the hope is to make the routes more efficient while saving the district money.
The software is able to map out the most efficient routes, which should allow Groton schools to eliminate two buses without making the trip any longer for students.
Groton parent Lauren DeBarros said she likes the sound of the software.
“If there’s something that happened I would like to know if my kids are going to be late or where they’re at,” she said.
That should be made even easier. The district told NBC Connecticut that the new technology can specifically target which stops a bus hasn’t picked up at yet, so the district can text parents if there’s a delay.
But Superintendent Dr. Michael Graner said the biggest feature is being able to efficiently map bus routes for the district’s approximately 5,000 students.
Graner said through a study, the district learned that many routes finished in less time than they were allotted. With the program redesigning the routes, the district was able to eliminate two of its buses, which cost $58,000 each to operate.
“We’re actually pretty confident we can, maybe not this year, but certainly next year, eliminate more buses,” Graner said.
With a tight budget, Groton schools have been hard-pressed to make significant cuts.
“I definitely think that if it cuts budgets here, there’s going to be room for money to go other places that the school definitely needs,” DeBarros said.
With military families coming and going at random times throughout the school year, the program can quickly add or drop students from routes.
Graner said children should not be on the bus any longer than they’re used to, especially because parents with students attending regional magnet schools outside of the district will be asked to bring their student to a hub.
Graner explained that the district just added a new assistant transportation coordinator to help with the program. Her salary should be in the $40,000 range – less than the cost of using a bus.
The district also said eventually the software will be used to allow parents to track their child’s bus route in real time.