Updated 4:29 PM CDT, Tue, Aug 31, 2010
In a bid to set parents' nerves at ease, a southwest suburban school district has become one of the first in the state to begin using GPS to track schoolchildren riding buses to and from school each day.
Palos Heights School District 128 had previously been using ZPass, a GPS technology provided by Seattle-based Zonar Systems, to track the buses. But now the district is outfitting students' backpacks with a luggage tag-sized unit that logs when the student steps on and off the bus.
"A little piece of mind helps you get through the day," says Ann O'Brien, a mother of four children in Palos Heights School District 128. "They can locate kid and bus in seconds."
O'Brien says as she watched her children board and exit school busses today, with the new ZPass cards attached to their backpacks.
Palos School Superintendent Kathleen Casey says the system helps alleviate parents' concerns.
"We can track the bus with the GPS, alleviate a parent's fear if they got on or off bus, look up their ID number and find out what bus and what time boarded or if still on or exited," she said.
The district spent $16,000 for the technology, which currently covers 10 buses. Parents say the cost is minimal for the benefits.