26 Apr

Stopfinder in the News - Bullitt Co. Public Schools, KY

From WDRB.com / By Valerie Chinn / Apr 26, 2024

SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Driving a school bus is a tough job, and a shortage affecting districts nationwide is hitting Bullitt County Public Schools (KY), too.

BCPS pays its drivers an hourly rate from $19.42 to $26.44, but with 75 full-time drivers and 12 substitutes, district leaders are still looking to hire six to eight full-time drivers and another 10 subs.

"We are continuing to recruit as many drivers as we can," Superintendent Jesse Bacon said. "Even if folks are willing to drive one, two, three days a week or if they're just willing to drive in the morning or just willing to drive in the afternoon, we can use them."

Going back to last school year, Bacon said, BCPS was short up to 20 routes per day. In some cases, routes were canceled.

"(At that point), it is self-transport, but we do offer to pay for child care services for parents that need that," he said. "So students are able to be dropped off at one of our YMCA locations, and the district picks up the cost for that. And we'll continue to do that even with our new partnership with Right at School."

And now, BCPS is rolling out a new piece of technology to help bus drivers and parents. It's called Stopfinder, a bus tracker that's being rolled out in phases.

"Most of what we have done is unseen," said David Phelps, director of transportation with the district. "It plugs under the dash like a code reader used for your insurance. It's what tracks the bus under there."

Stopfinder has been rolled out to all the elementary schools and is being rolled out to the middle schools and high schools starting next week. Parents can get up-to-date information on where their bus is and when it'll arrive.

"All of our buses have tablets on them that'll have turn-by -turn navigation for any driver that is utilizing that ..." Bacon said. "All of that too will talk to a Stopfinder app."

"Some of our routing software does include some artificial intelligence but it also includes growth projection and current route stops, too. And that's something we're constantly looking at. Even the software that we got now will reroute depending upon outages."

Also on the tables, reporting any bad bus behavior will be bus drivers' fingertips, getting referrals back to school principals quicker.

"This will be great for the discipline issues, one of the biggest problems for all of our districts," Phelps said.

The district has had cameras on the bus for years, but now, each one has five cameras, including forward-facing cameras and several inside.