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Officials happy with system that tracks young students on the bus

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KENT -- School officials are trying a new pilot program to make sure a small child is never lost when they ride the bus.

Elizabeth Vasquez remembers being terrified when her oldest daughter got off the school bus at the wrong place.

“The first week of kindergarten at a different school," Vasquez said. "It took an hour for them to find her.”

This year, Elizabeth has another kindergartener riding the bus but this time there’s a system to give her peace of mind.

Ten buses in the Kent School District are testing state of the art tracking equipment. Kindergarteners who ride these buses have badges with bar codes attached to their backpacks. Students scan those cards when they get on and off. Every time a card is scanned, the exact location is marked on a map with a time stamp. If a child gets off at the wrong stop officials know exactly where and when it happened.

Chris Loftis, a spokesperson for the Kent School District, said, “There’s no silver bullet. We’re trying to use technology in a way that’s going to give us one more layer of protection for those children.”

Right now it’s just a pilot program, but this system can be a valuable tool in large scale emergencies. In a crash, officials would know who was on the bus and access contact information for parents.

Kent School District officials are happy with the program. They have received great feedback from parents. The pilot program will run through the rest of the school year and the district might expand it in the future.

The Tacoma School District uses this program in 13 elementary schools and will expand it to include 19 elementary schools next fall.

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  • tootietuttle

    how much time is it going to take to scan these kids on a day to day basis. Seems a little excessive for the number of kids gone missing versus the cost in time and effort.

  • Go Zonar

    @ tootietuttle, do you even have kids? Do they even ride a school bus? Have you ever rode a modern day bus in the Seattle area? If so you know how much time that takes to pay with card or cash.. It’s Not long at all!!!! Sounds like you need to be educated on certain things before you go popping off at the mouth with facts that you can’t back up!!!! Do us all a favor and just keep quiet when grown folks talking and leading our children in the right direction to a brighter and Safer future…. Go Zonar…

    • tootietuttle

      yes, I have kids…and they never got lost on a bus and I never had to put a gps on them. I know a lot of people who miss their children on the bus, because a lot of those children are like their parents and think that the bus will wait for them. Typical liberal thinking on implementation. Debit cards and credit cards pay for themselves through transaction fees as do their maintenance costs which can be quite costly. Do you even think of “costs”? Costs means money in easier for you to understand terms. When you guys stop screaming about lack of funding in schools and increasing my taxes, What about qualitative costs such as how much time its going to take a 5 or a 6 year old to scan…if you’ve ever ridden a city bus, this takes some adults forever to find their card or pay with cash. Imagine the lineups behind the buses. I’ll be quiet. You know, if you are really worried about your kids, get them a cell phone and download a gps app at your own cost. Do first and think later about actual cost, is an ideology you liberals need to get away from…

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