Wisconsin District Tests Student Tracking System on Buses

Wisconsin District Tests Student Tracking System on Buses

The Hortonville Area School District is testing the UniteGPS System for tracking the location of students on its school buses.

Hortonville Area School District has a total of 76 buses, picking students up at stops along 56 routes. For years, the district has tracked the school buses using GPS; it is now testing the UniteGPS System for tracking the location of students on those buses.

“We’re one of the first ones in the state,” said Harry Steenbock, transportation director at the Hortonville Area School District. “I don’t believe anyone around the state has gone to student tracking.”

Steenbock said the school board recently voted to expand tests of the UniteGPS System from two buses to 12 buses.

“We’ll give the student a card. We program the card to fit the student with the name, and it will actually have a picture on them, also,” Steenbock said.

Students scan their card when they get on and off of the school bus. When the card is scanned, the student’s name, address and bus stop are displayed on an 8-inch tablet placed on the dash, giving the driver information on who is on their bus and whether they are on the correct bus.

“When we do the 4K orientation with the new 4-year-old students, I always tell the parents, ‘We misplace kids, but we’ve never lost one.’ We always find them. This is a tool to make sure we find them a lot faster,” Steenbock said.

UniteGPS System gives parents access to real-time location information for their children and the buses online and via a smartphone app. Parents are also able to opt into text alerts from UniteGPS to let them know when their students get on or off of the bus.

“The way I see it, the administration is really following their own rules where as technology changes, they’re doing the best they can to make sure that we’re doing our jobs,” said Kevin Sturn, a bus driver and parent in the Hortonville Area School District. “The main part of our jobs is to make sure kids get to and from school safely.”

Steenbock said he has concerns about how the system will affect bus loading times after school and how security will be affected.

He said he hopes to address those questions and ensure everything is working correctly. Steenbock’s goal is to expand UniteGPS to all buses before the next school year.

The system costs $150,000 in installation costs and $45,000 in annual operation fees.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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