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Article: District Introduces New Transportation Technology

District Introduces New Transportation Technology

Posted Thursday, February 1, 2024

As technology continues to develop throughout the educational landscape, the Bellbrook Sugarcreek School District is using it to assist its employees and district families where it makes sense.

One of those places is the new Stopfinder App, which family members can install to help keep track of student pickup and drop-off times, bus stop locations and bus numbers.

The benefits of the new app are numerous, but the reason for the change is easy. In simple terms, where the district houses its information for students -- FinalForms -- and the old bus routing system didn't communicate well with one another.

Full student information lists had to be downloaded from one system and uploaded into another. With Stopfinder that will now be a thing of the past.

A major benefit of this new technology is being able to communicate -- one way -- with families of riders on a certain bus. For example, if Bus 45 is running late to BCI because of a blown tire, Transportation Supervisor Lori Smith can send a message to just those families and let them know what is happening and what the next steps are so families aren't burdened with unnecessary information.

"In an effort to protect student data and create continuity, we needed a product that would exchange data seamlessly and safely," Smith said. "This system will house all the routing information -- bus stops, times, parent contact info, transportation contacts (who can pick up students and how to get a hold of parents if there's a problem at a stop) and it gives me a tool to contact the parents in the moment versus having to go through a process that is more general and contacts everyone."

Not everyone has access to the Stopfinder App, though. Only those who are listed in FinalForms as the first two parents/guardians will be able to see the information available for students. The main family member contacts in FinalForms control who can access their student's bus information through an invitation after their information is completed in Stopfinder.

So what's the first step? Make sure all your contact information is updated in FinalForms.

Similar to Remind, FinalForms is where the district draws the contact information from. Once the information is correct, the main contact for the families will receive an invitation via email to download the Stopfinder App and create an account with the email provided in FinalForms. Your students' information should automatically filter in after a few more steps, and then you can pick your preferences on how you receive updates, whether it's through the Stopfinder App, texts or emails. Pick one, two or all ways, it's up to you!

There are videos available, just in case you are having trouble getting your preferences just the way you want them. 

"If families see inaccurate information in the Stopfinder  App, they absolutely need to let us know so we can get it corrected," Smith said. "We can't correct what we don't know about. We've got over 3,100 transportation requests. About 1,500 students who are transported by bus, so we need the help of families to let us know if something there isn't quite right."

The system has been used in the background for a while now, so in theory, the routing information should be largely accurate. It should be noted, per the guidance from the Department of Homeland Security, the district will not enable the GPS tracking feature of buses, when students have been dropped off, or the current locations of buses. Very few districts, if any in our area, provide the GPS information of buses to families.

MAKE SURE:
Transportation contact information, email and phone numbers need to be checked/updated now that the Stopfinder App is available. The information in FinalForms is what the District relies on for parent contact information.

Step 1: Update all contact information in FinalForms for each student by Feb. 5.

Step 2: You will receive an invite to Stopfinder to verify your information. You can't get to Step 2 without completing Step 1.

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