busHive Helps New York District Handle Heavy Load of Field Trips

Syracuse City School District, New York
School District

busHive Helps New York District Handle Heavy Load of Field Trips

For Syracuse City School District, busHive is the right solution to streamline the trip management process, track trips and drivers, and build custom reports.

From museum visits to track meets to band competitions, off-site trips are instrumental in students’ education. For school districts, handling the logistics and the often-high volume of these outings poses a number of challenges.

Consider Syracuse (N.Y.) City School District, which can expect to field 90 trips a day. Those excursions might entail transporting students across town or across the state to New York City. Like many other school districts around the nation, Syracuse has found that field trip management software helps streamline the process, saving time and money. However, not all field trip software is created equal.

Districts need a robust system with automated features and customization. The system must also be intuitive, because many staff members within the school system will have to be able to use it. Although Syracuse City School District outsources its school bus service, the transportation department manages all field trip requests. To make the process more efficient, the district sought a trip management solution that would save time and improve coordination among the schools and the transportation department.

The Challenge: Handling High Volume

With 21,000 students at 36 schools, transportation is a major undertaking at Syracuse City School District. The district contracts with two private school bus operators for home-to-school service as well as transportation for field trips, athletic competitions, and other excursions.

Even with contractors running the buses, the district’s transportation department is responsible for managing trip requests, which itself is a big task.

Syracuse had been using a field trip program that they described as “outdated and slow.” But with as many as 90 trips going out per day at peak times of the year, the district needed a solution that could keep up with the demand while addressing their top priorities, including:

  • Streamlining the process.
  • Making it easier to track trips and drivers.
  • Allowing for the building of custom reports.

Lisa Reiss, assistant director of transportation at Syracuse City School District, has experience doing field trip management the old-fashioned way. At her previous school district, it was done manually on paper and then inputted into a system. Needless to say, it was not an efficient approach.

“There was a lot of redundancy, and it was very time-consuming,” Reiss says.

With that experience under her belt, Reiss knew how important it is to have an efficient and user-friendly solution. So when she came to Syracuse a few years ago, she was pleased to dive right into using the new field trip platform Syracuse school officials had selected.

The Solution: Full Suite of Features

After looking into the options, Syracuse had found that busHive was the best solution to meet their field trip management 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 cost tracking.

“It seemed to have all we needed,” Reiss says. “We wanted to be able to do some custom reports, track trips and drivers, that kind of thing — but to make it easier.”

The Benefits: Streamlining Trip Management

For Syracuse City School District, busHive has proved to be a great fit for the transportation department and for the schools. Just as important as the array of features is the program’s intuitive design, making it a breeze for new users to get up to speed.

Once they’ve been trained on the busHive program, school staff can easily submit field trip requests. Any special needs or equipment, such as car seats, can be entered in the request. And the transparency of the system means that school staffers have more information at their fingertips, which in turn has improved communication.

“It has saved an enormous amount of calls and emails,” Reiss says.

The busHive solution has also bolstered communication with Syracuse’s school bus contractors that are running the trips, and the system provides a “paper trail” record to ensure accountability.

Meanwhile, transportation staff can readily access the data they need. They can easily track the costs of field trips, for example, or they can quickly print a daily trip sheet, which is helpful when there are questions about a trip.

“It's ‘bing bing,’ you're in. You’ve got the report at the touch of your hand,” Reiss says. “It's just so much more efficient and streamlined.”

Strong customer support has been another key benefit of busHive for Syracuse City School District. Reiss says that company personnel respond quickly whenever she has a question.

Because her experience with the company and the software has been so positive, Reiss says she would “absolutely” recommend busHive to other school districts looking for a field trip management solution.

“Give busHive a chance to come in and show you what they can do,” Reiss advises.

Fast Facts: Syracuse City School District

Total student enrollment: 21,000

Students transported to school daily: 15,000

Field trips per day: ~90

School buses: 200 (contracted)

District schools: 36

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