District to use ‘SafeStop’ app
SafeStop is a mobile app that provides parents with information on the school buses transporting their students
EAST CALN >> The Downingtown Area School District will use an app that allows parents to stay informed about their child’s school bus arrival and departure times.
SafeStop bus locator app, an innovative mobile app, connects the district’s parents and its school officials with information on the buses transporting their students to school and from school.
“With busy lives and two parents working, the piece of mind knowing your child’s whereabouts before and after school and most especially during emergency situations like school closings and delays, is reason enough for us to provide this program to our DASD families,” Schools Superintendent Lawrence Mussoline said.
The app gives parents the ability to see if a bus is re-routed because of traffic, an accident, road blockage, and provides informa-
tion to the parents about the bus arrival. It also helps parents know of departure times from school in times of inclement weather when school closes early.
“It’s a valuable tool we want to provide for our parents,” Mussoline said.
The app provides parents with a real-time map feature that displays the location of their child’s bus and estimated arrival times at their bus stop. An alerts and messaging center will relay service information from the school or transportation provider.
The school district services approximately 14,000 students at ten elementary schools, a sixth grade center, two middle schools and three high schools. It is the largest school district in Chester County.
“After two years of research, the district is excited about providing parents with an inexpensive option to track their child’s transportation arrival and dismissal times,” Mussoline said.
The app costs $19.99 per family per year. Parents can add all of their children who attend the district to view their busing location and information.
However, the GPS tracking is unavailable when the designated school bus is out of service for maintenance and a replacement bus is used. District officials informed parents that “every attempt will be made to notify you through the app announcement or e-mail, when this occurs.”
Since different buses are arranged to transport athletes and others, the district said it is unable to provide the tracking service for after school activity buses.
SafeStop allows only parents and caregivers to view it. District officials said that from the registration and privacy standpoint, it is 100 percent secure.
“When our families can know where their bus is and when to expect it at the bus stop, it makes everyone’s day a lot easier,” said Jeffrey Simmons, transportation supervisor at the district. “We welcome this type of innovation and we are confident our parents will too.”
In a newsletter to parents, district officials stated that “we are the first district in Chester County, and to our knowledge, the first in Pennsylvania to provide this us tracking option for parents.”
“Not only should SafeStop provide peace of mind and a new level of convenience for our parents, but it will help us analyze in real-time how our transportation system is performing,” Simmons said.
Richard Fazio, financial officer for the district, said it is typical for the school district to receive numerous inquiries about the student transportation during the beginning of the school year. He said this app may not alleviate that, but he said the transportation should improve this year.
“It’s no secret that the start of the school year last year did not go well,” Fazio said when he discussed the app during a school board meeting earlier this month. “I wanted to be assured that that wasn’t going to happen again.”
District officials had changed its busing schedule during the 2014-15 school year to address long commute times. Fazio said that several factors contributed to that, including the opening of the Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center, elementary redistricting and the consolidation of the high and middle school dismissal time.
“We are excited to be on the forefront of technology,” Simmons said.
The Safestop App is available for Apple and Android tablets and phones. Parents can also access the app on a computer browser. The account is available to two members of the family.
The app will be available for use when the 2015-2016 school year begins on Aug. 31.
Mussoline expressed gratitude for the partnership between the district’s bus companies — Krapf, Wolfington and On the Go Kids — for “sharing our vision and making this happen for our parents.”
Patricia McGlone, district spokeswoman, also commended the bus companies.
“Without their help and support in getting this program up and running this fall, we would not be able to offer this unique app to our parents,” McGlone said.
For more information on SafeStop, visit www. safestopapp.com.
Downingtown Area School District will use an app that allows parents to stay informed about their child’s bus schedule.