DeKalb District 428 to offer bus-tracking mobile app for parents

FirstView also will give real-time weather updates, notify parents of snow delays

DeKALB – Parents in DeKalb School District 428 soon will have the opportunity to track the bus schedules for their children and get mobile updates ahead of snow closures or weather delays.

Superintendent Jamie Craven said the FirstView parent bus tracking app will help the district reach out to parents more quickly, referencing a recent incident in which a bus was delayed in Cortland and district officials were unable to contact parents efficiently.

“A couple weeks ago, we had a train stopped on the tracks out in Cortland, which caused a delay,” Craven said Tuesday. “Communicating that quickly and giving parents the time of day was difficult for us. Now we have this particular app where we can identify students on that route; parents using this app would know the buses are delayed.”

The app, which will be provided at no additional cost to the district since it’s an extra service courtesy of First Student Inc., the district’s school bus provider, will give parents real-time bus tracking through GPS tracking that is updated every 15 seconds, said Tiffani Ingram, FirstView implementation specialist. Parents or guardians also can see email or in-app alerts and estimated times of arrival, as well as receive confirmation when their child’s bus arrives at its destination.

“They can see the bus move on the map. They can see the time update, so it really gives them an inside look at where the bus is just for their student’s stop,” Ingram said.

The mobile program, which can be downloaded through Apple’s App Store or on Google Play, is being piloted through a small group of parents, Craven said. The district will roll out the program districtwide in the next few weeks.

The app also is meant to reach families in the district’s more rural areas, Ingram said.

A feature of the app includes GPS data retrieval that specifically will accommodate for bad cellphone reception in rural areas, she said.

After last winter’s polar vortex weather and a historic Halloween snowfall, Craven said the app also will allow parents to prepare their children in case of longer wait times.

“If in the event the buses are running a little behind or if we get another polar vortex, parents can then hold the kids in their car at some so they’re not standing out for 10, 12 minutes in brutal weather,” Craven said.