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Where’s the bus? Now parents will know

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HUDSON–School district officials and parents will be able to track school buses via a device the district plans install on the buses it uses.
District Business Executive Robert Yusko told the Board of Education Monday, August 10 that the device will enable school officials to go to a special website and see—as of that moment– where the buses are, how fast each is traveling, and whether any is idling. It will also have an mobile app for parents and guardians that can tell them exactly where a bus is.
The device could help school officials handle calls from parents asking about bus locations, Mr. Yusko indicated. First of all, fewer parents might call, because many could check the bus location themselves.
Secondly, those who do call would speak with someone who had immediate access to accurate up-to-the-moment information.

Another situation where the bus tracking device would help, Mr. Yusko indicated, is sports runs and field trips. The device would enable the district to double check the mileage billed to the district by bus companies.
Synovia Solutions provides the devices and would install them on all busses the district uses, even though these buses come from a variety of companies. The district does not own buses or employ
drivers; it contracts with private companies to provide student transportation.
Mark Brenneman, Principal of Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School, brought Synovia’s bus
monitoring device to the attention of the district administration, Mr. Yusko said. The device is intended for the 2015-16 school year.
“We’re excited about it,” said Mr. Yusko. “We want to move forward with it.”
“I think it’s a great idea,” said board member William Kappel, who has driven school busses. “There are some very speedy drivers.”
“We’ll be able to call them up and say they’re going too fast,” Mr. Yusko said.
Nobody on the board or on the audience objected to the plan for the devices. But board member Sage Carter asked, “Were the bus companies receptive?”
“Yes,” answered Mr. Yusko, though at first they resented the short notice.
Synovia will charge $31 a month per vehicle. Mr. Yusko estimated this would cost the district about
$21,000 a year.
The bus tracking device has an optional feature to track children on the bus, which Mr. Yusko said the
district could consider for use in the future. Again, nobody raised objections. Both Mr. Kappel and board member Sumayyah Shabazz spoke of the need to have little children who fall asleep in the back of the bus get off at their stop.
Also at the meeting, Superintendent Maria Suttmeier said that she, Mr. Yusko, George Keeler and
architects are working on a capital improvements construction plan for the district. A high school track is on the wish list, she noted, but in addition, buildings need structural improvements. She also said that
“the architects ask very pointed questions” about the district’s long-term visions.
One such question is: Do you see yourself continuing as a 3-campus or a 2-campus district?. Ms. Suttmeier said this raises the question of whether to consider closing the John L. Edwards Primary
School (pre-K through 2nd grade) and redistribute students among the district’s two other locations, the
Intermediate School and the Junior/Senior High School.
The primary school, Ms. Suttmeier said, “is a within-city school, and that’s both a blessing and a curse.
It’s a blessing that some people walk to it, and we use it for voting and community meetings.” Parking there is limited but closing the school would create other issues.
The intermediate school has capital construction needs and the district rents part of the primary school building to the Head Start program.
“Can we sell the building? If not, can we rent it all out?” Mr. Kappel asked.
Addressing a different matter, Ms. Suttmeier called attention to the Community Conversation for Destination Graduation Goals Thursday, August 20, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the John L. Edwards
Primary School, on State Street.
The next Hudson City School Board meeting is Monday, August 24, at the Junior High School library on
Harry Howard Avenue, at 7 p.m
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