Columbus City Schools testing new technology to help guide drivers and students

File photo - School bus (WBNS-10TV)
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COLUMBUS, Ohio - A new year is about to begin for the largest school district in Ohio.

Columbus City Schools is getting ready to welcome in over 50,000 students for a new school year. This time of year can be stressful for students who try to get used to a new routine or even new school. Another stress can come from new busing routes.

CCS transports over 35,000 kids each day to school and back, which means over 700 bus routes. This year, kids and bus drivers are getting a little help.

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The help comes from a new tool called the "Smart Drive System." It's a GPS-like device that is installed on each bus. The bus driver will log-in and his or her routes will immediately be programmed in so the driver can get visual and audio commands to pick up the students. This is especially helpful to new or substitute bus drivers. They no longer have to memorize or guess where their next stop will be.

This system has another benefit. A student will wear a badge and swipe it on the bus when they board. A picture will immediately show up on a tablet confirming to the student and the bus driver who is boarding whether it's the right person and right bus.

"I'm amazed and excited that we have the technology and that the district is willing to invest in student safety," says CCS Director of Transportation's Steve McElroy.

The investment cost $1 million which the school system received from a grant. 10 schools will be trying it out this year. They hope to have the system fully functioning by next year, allowing the district to keep track of every bus and every student for which they're responsible.