MORGAN -- A Morgan mother readies her children for school on a bitter, snowy morning.
Because the family lives at the end of a long drive, the children are not looking forward to trudging to the bus stop and waiting an undetermined length of time for the bus to show up.
The mom's cell phone blips, announcing a text message that says the bus is five minutes away. It's just enough time to pile the kids into the car and meet the bus at the end of the drive, without any unnecessary waiting in the freezing cold.
Such a scenario could become a reality now that school board members agreed to become a one-year beta site for a new real-time GPS tracking system.
"Ride Systems wants to give Morgan a system that a lot of districts are putting in and paying a lot of money for," said Robert Kilmer, human resource director.
Justin Rees, Morgan native and founder of Ride Systems, said he would donate $6,000 worth of equipment capable of tracking all district buses, as well as ongoing upgrades, installation and maintenance costs.
"It gives the district quite a bit of value, and helps it run more efficiently," said Rees, a 1998 graduate of Morgan High School.
The system can transmit speed, direction and location of vehicles every 10 minutes using a server and the Internet. Such information would be available only to administrators and authorized district employees.
"Administratively, we could use this tool to streamline our routes and better run our system," Kilmer said.
A second feature of the systems is a service parents can pay for (up to $6 a month) that alerts registered cell phone numbers with service announcements and bus locations. Using the service, parents can know if their child's bus will be late because of weather or when the bus will arrive at a predetermined stop.
"Parents don't have to waste time waiting at a bus stop and wondering where their kids are," Rees said. Local Parent Teacher Student organizations are excited about the prospects, he said.
Rees said the general public will not be able to view GPS locations of the buses, and that parents using the system will only know time estimates, not actual bus locations.
"There are (past) experiences where this would have come in valuable and paid for itself," Superintendent Ken Adams said. Adams said he has spent $125 in one night using a cell phone to notify parents of transportation changes, such as a wrestling team stuck in a blizzard.