The Bartlesville Public Schools and EDULOG Create Greater Busing Efficiency and Equitably Distribute Students with New Boundaries
Oklahoma’s Bartlesville Public Schools (BPS) reduced the required number of bus stops—leading to greater transportation efficiency—and has successfully altered its elementaryattendance boundaries thanks to EDULOG’s Electronic Pupil Transportation System (ePTS)software and the company’s attendance boundary consulting services.
Located north of Tulsa, Bartlesville is the county seat of Washington County, which has a population of more than 50,000. The BPS consists of six elementary schools, two middle schools, amid-high school, and a high school. The district transports 2,800 students on 32 routes.
In 2009, the BPS invested in EDULOG’s ePTS solution. Since the implementation of the software the district has been able to eliminate more than 100 stops by applying the results of a transportation optimization study conducted by EDULOG. Additionally, EDULOG’s consulting services proved to be vital during the process of altering its elementary school attendance boundaries.
“It’s a life saver,” Orville Burks, route coordinator for the BPS, said about the ePTS software. “The investment in EDULOG was money well spent. It was a great process all together, and I couldn’t imagine doing it the old way without ePTS.”
After years of routing its buses without any type of software, in 2009 the district solicited proposals from a number of vendors in the industry, and in the end it chose EDULOG and its Silver Level ePTS solution.
The ePTS system is designed for smaller school districts that want a full-scale routing and scheduling system but don’t want to make a large investment. With the ePTS system, districts don’t have to purchase hardware, new servers, or hire additional staff. It’s a turnkey solution where EDULOG professionals handle all of the technical responsibilities and daily maintenance.
“It has simplified my life so all the routes are in one database and now I don’t have to sort through a stack of papers anymore,” Burks said. “It is that helpful. It constantly seems like I am going to it.”
The ePTS system features a graphical map that makes it easy to identify where new students live and to plan routes accordingly. The software was designed with ease-of-use in mind and customers have the option to choose three different levels of continuing service and support from EDULOG: platinum, gold, and silver.
With the ePTS package EDULOG not only handles all of the maintenance, but also helps build the routes. In the case of the BPS, the district had a list of its stops in a Word document. Using the provided lists, professionals at EDULOG built the routes and integrated them into the software. Then, EDULOG worked with the district to fine-tune the routing data, particularly in areas with railroad crossings. With all of the routes built and placed in the ePTS software, the BPS had a fully functional routing and scheduling system with a graphical map that shows the streets, routes, and buses.
Transportation Optimization Study Cuts Stops, Leads to Greater Efficiency
One of the benefits of investing in an EDULOG system is having the ability to create a more efficient transportation operation. With the routes built and the ePTS system functioning, the district was in a position to eliminate inefficiencies in its runs through an optimization study performed by EDULOG.
After professionals at EDULOG analyzed the BPS’ transportation data, it was found that reducing the number of stops in the district’s runs would lead to greater efficiencies. The end result was a 20 percent reduction in stops – about 120 stops were eliminated. Some of the stops were as close as 100 yards from one another.
“The reduction in stops was pretty huge,” Burks said. “That streamlined our operation. It was kind of unreal how we had additional stops and it saved us a little bit in man-hours. It smoothed out the runs and allowed us to become more efficient.”
Ultimately, the results of the study yielded more than just reduced stops; it saved fuel consumption, reduced driver hours, reduced vehicle wear and tear, and reduced the ride times for some children.
Attendance Boundary Consulting Services Prove Valuable
In 2010 the BPS decided to close one of its elementary schools, the Oak Park Elementary School. The closure of the school forced the BPS to alter its elementary attendance and subsequent transportation boundaries. It was the first attendance boundary change in more than 20 years at the district.
Boundary changes at school districts affect students, parents, realtors, school staffers—in addition to numerous community members. The process can often be emotional and controversial. For instance, children who used to go to the same schools, ride the same bus and play together sometimes find out they have to go to a different school with a different group of students. The impacts of boundary changes go well beyond schools of attendance.
“The school that closed, Oak Park, is actually in the neighborhood I live in,” Burks explained. “It was very emotional, there were several town hall type meetings. I really think bringing in the outside third party was very beneficial to separating the emotion in the area.”
But there was a lot more involved than just redrawing the attendance and transportation boundaries. Each new boundary had to take into consideration total building capacities, and maximum road and load times in the transportation build—all with the goal of affecting as few students as possible. New routes and stops had to built and also taken into consideration. Essentially, each boundary had to have projected student numbers so the school board could make an educated decision of how the boundary changes would impact the community. Once all the projections and maps were built they were then brought to the school board. After another round of changes to address capacity issues, the school board adopted the new boundaries. And the result has been a successful transition to the school attendance plan.
Ongoing Customer-First Support; Continuation of Quality Service
Providing clients with the support they need is an integral part of EDULOG’s business philosophy. And for our ePTS clients, that service goes an extra step. A professional from EDULOG is assigned as a site manager to work with each district. The district has the one primary contact at EDULOG who acts a “virtual employee.”
“Everyone I have worked with has just been absolutely fantastic,” Burks said of the service EDULOG provides. “I can’t say enough about Joanne, Karen, and Troy (EDULOG employees). They are very good about returning phone calls and everyone has been a joy to work with.”
EDULOG’s professionals are with you every step of the way: from the sale, to implementation, to training, and beyond. Ensuring that a customer’s needs are met is an integral part of the overall process. Additionally, EDULOG offers a variety of avenues to further one’s skills: on-line forums, user groups based by states, continuing education opportunities, and free training webinars.
Executive Director of EDULOG’s Customer Ace Department, Shawna Knudson, elaborated on the importance of excellent customer service: “Our experience with the Bartlesville Public Schools is a great example of how we want our ACE (Advocacy, Care, Empowerment) department to work. Customer ACE is designed to enhance EDULOG’s support services through project management, client communication, and continuing education. We’ve been able to maintain close interaction with Burks and the district from project phase to completion and beyond. We’re very pleased with how the Bartlesville Public Schools transportation department operates, and we look forward to many more years of partnership.”