NORTHBOROUGH/SOUTHBOROUGH – The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough has launched an application where parents can track their child’s bus.
The app, entitled “Where is my kid,” uses GPS technology to track a student’s bus.
“For a new app, we did anticipate glitches, but overall, I think the experience has been pretty good for our families that have chosen to participate,” said Assistant Superintendent of Operations Keith Lavoie during a Nov. 8 Southborough School Committee meeting.
Parents can enable notifications to be sent to their phones once their child’s bus arrives at a preset location.
“We are the first district to use this application,” Lavoie told the Northborough School Committee, Nov. 3.
The app was purchased by North Reading Transportation (NRT), which the district has contracted with through June 2023.
According to Lavoie, NRT both runs and helped develop the app.
Lavoie has requested any data on how many parents are using the app and any adjustments NRT has made based on the feedback of district parents.
This comes after the district implemented new start times at the beginning of this year. Specifically for Algonquin Regional High School, the school day now starts at 8 a.m. instead of 7:20 a.m.
“Those are reports I’d like to get from them on a monthly basis as we go through our start time implementation,” Lavoie said of NRT in comments to the Northborough committee.
Parents had expressed interest back in 2014 in the school district studying the impact of later start times. Some of a subsequently formed study group’s work showed that, in part, better sleep led to better academic performance, fewer sports injuries and reduced rates of depression, anxiety and substance use.
The district implemented its new start times this year. But it has been making tweaks.
The start time at Melican Middle School, which had a start time of 7:50 a.m., was adjusted to begin five minutes earlier. Four Northborough elementary schools were changed to start five minutes later.
Lavoie told the Northborough committee that the shift corrected a handful of timing issues that had been having ripple effects on a majority of buses and their routes.
Many parents said the adjustment had been beneficial, though others said that change had a negative impact, he said.
“Overall, we were extremely satisfied with the adjustment and what that did,” Lavoie said.
He said the next step involves digging into bus routes to find areas for further efficiency. That process could include examining questions such as whether Melican students can be dropped off on the way to the high school at the end of the day.