With busHive, Hilliard City Schools Finds a User-Friendly Field Trip Solution

Hilliard City Schools, Ohio
School District

Case Study: With busHive, Hilliard City Schools Finds a User-Friendly Field Trip Solution

[TEASER] Outgrowing its previous field-trip solution, Hilliard City Schools needed a solution that would improve scheduling, automate driver assignments, and improve billing. It found what it needed in busHive.

From museum visits to band competitions to track meets, off-site trips are an essential part of students’ education, but they pose a number of logistical challenges for school districts.

Transportation departments already have their hands full shuttling students to and from school every day. Activity and athletic trips add another layer of complexity to the management of school bus fleets and drivers.

Fortunately, field trip management software can help districts streamline the trip process, saving time and money. However, not all field trip software is created equal.

School districts need a robust field trip system with automated features and customization. The system must also be intuitive, because many staff members within the school system must be able to use it. A case in point is Hilliard City Schools in Hilliard, Ohio. The growing district in Central Ohio found that its old field trip software system couldn’t meet its needs and was a source of frustration for transportation staff and school administrators alike.

Now, with an upgrade to busHive’s field trip software, Hilliard has improved driver assignment tracking, simplified billing, saved time, and made field trip requests a breeze.

The Problem: Outgrowing the Old System

Hilliard City Schools serves a fast-growing community northwest of Columbus, Ohio. With a total enrollment of nearly 17,000 students, the school district is now the eighth largest in the state.

On the transportation front, Hilliard’s fleet of just over 150 school buses transport students to and from 22 district schools, plus 10 private schools.

In addition to the daily school-home-school service, Hilliard provided transportation for 2,195 trips in the 2018-2019 school year, and is on track to exceed that number in the current school year. To that end, the district had been using a field trip management program for more than 16 years and was ready for a change.

The key reason: As Hilliard’s transportation services expanded over the years, their software could not keep pace with their growing needs.

For starters, much of the data had to be entered manually, which was very time-consuming and cumbersome. Also, Hilliard’s old system could not manage multiple emergency contact lists, which is essential for field trips. Private schools could not enter their own trips, so the district’s dispatcher had to enter those manually.

In a nutshell, Hilliard’s previous software wasn’t user-friendly, neither for the transportation office nor for school administrative staff who request field trips. That led the district to search for a better solution.

“We just felt that it was time for a change,” says Lynn Wilson, dispatcher for Hilliard City Schools.

The Solution: Checking All the Boxes

To find the best fit for field trip software, Hilliard investigated the available options. District staff held conference calls with vendors, listened to presentations, and asked lots of questions.

The search for a new software system was a team effort — involving transportation, district administrators, IT, and billing — because they had to make sure the solution would work for every district stakeholder.

Through the course of their research, Hilliard found that busHive checked all the boxes for their needs. The busHive field trip platform is highly customizable, and it boasts a full suite of features, including:

  • Online field trip request forms and approval paths.
  • Historical records of the field trip approval process.
  • District blackout dates for holidays, testing, and more based on bus availability.
  • Bus driver rotation setup and driver sign-up forms.
  • Dispatch calendar with color-coordinated scheduling software.
  • Printable field trip itineraries for drivers, with directions.
  • Invoicing and payroll management.

“We did a lot of conference calls with busHive, with different people in our organization, and they all just readily agreed that this program sounded like what we were needing,” Wilson says.

As Hilliard moved forward with implementing busHive, the first step was to get the trip requesters on board — i.e., the secretary in each school. Along with the district schools, busHive could be set up in all of the private schools that Hilliard serves for field trips, which solved one of the issues they had experienced with their previous system.

As they’ve learned to use busHive and worked through the kinks that come with any new system implementation, Hilliard found that busHive was right there to support them.

The result: Hilliard’s transportation staff and school personnel alike have found busHive much easier to use. The calls, complaints, and headaches that were typical with the previous system have been essentially eliminated.

“Across the board, everyone has just loved busHive,” Wilson says.

The Benefits: Fostering Efficiency

Hilliard started using busHive for summer trips in 2019, and then went full-scale for field trips with the 2019-20 school year. The new system has delivered clear benefits for the district.

For example, managing the bus driver tracking and selection process for field trips is now easier and more efficient. To illustrate the improvement, consider some of the drawbacks of the district’s previous field trip software:

  • Hilliard’s old program automatically assigned a driver for a trip, but it often didn’t select the driver who was next in line.
  • The incorrect driver selections meant that the dispatcher had to go in and override the system; a time-consuming process.
  • The dispatcher had to maintain a separate list to track which driver should be next for trips, adding to the possibility of additional inefficiencies or mixups.

By contrast, busHive’s features have fostered a more efficient driver selection process for Hilliard, including:

  • busHive keeps track of which drivers are available, who is next in line, and who’s getting overtime.
  • The busHive system is more accurate and saves time by avoiding the need for manual overrides.
  • When a driver doesn’t take a trip, busHive enables Hilliard to record the reason (absent, turned down the trip on posting, turned down the trip on emergency, etc.). That record is helpful in cases when a driver disputes why they weren’t given a trip.

Meanwhile, busHive has also streamlined the financial side of field trips for Hilliard. The new system has eliminated prior problems with inputting PTO, purchase orders, and grant information. The transportation department’s billing specialist says she loves the new system, which has simplified her tasks and has saved her time.

As they gain more experience with their new field trip software, Hilliard continues to discover additional benefits of busHive, and Wilson says that she and her coworkers are excited to use it.

Just as important, the Hilliard staff has found the busHive team to be very helpful and supportive. Wilson says that busHive has been quick to respond by email or phone, and they’ve set up conference calls to help Hilliard work through issues when they arise.

Wilson credits busHive with giving her step-by-step instructions, to the point where she’s now more self-sufficient and can teach others how to use the system. She says she would highly recommend busHive to other school districts, citing the solution’s convenience and ease of use.

Adds Wilson: “Once you get established and learn it, busHive is just a breeze to use.”

Fleet Facts: Hilliard City Schools

Total students: 16,642

School buses: 158

Drivers: about 160

Schools served: 22 district schools, plus 10 private schools

Field trips 2018-2019 school year: 2,195

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