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New Zonar system keeps students safe

Posted Date: 10/02/2018

Preschooler swipes Zonar card as he boards the school busThe school board approved adding a Zonar tracking system to the district’s transportation fleet this year. It’s a new system designed to keep “Students First” and keep students safe.

Students have been issued Zonar cards that are swiped as they get on and off a school bus. That data goes into a computerized system that records what time a student got on or off a school bus. For instance, if a student boards at Royster Middle School, then transfers to another bus at Chanute Elementary, and rides that bus home, all those steps are recorded into the Zonar system. It even gives the time a student gets off the bus at a rural residence.

In Chanute Public Schools, nearly 1,000 students ride the buses to school. Double that number for the number of students the transportation drivers and rider are keeping track of on a daily basis. Add to that the 475 occasions when buses took students on field trips or to athletic events last year.

With such a high percentage of district students riding the buses, it made sense to adopt the Zonar system and be able to locate children quickly, explained Assistant Superintendent Kent Wire.

“The Zonar program is wonderful,” said Deb Finley, transportation supervisor. “We don’t have to go out and search for a child. We know exactly where they got on and where they got off.”

Sometimes, plans change, but nothing makes a parent’s heart race quicker than being told their child isn’t on the bus or isn’t at school.

Last week a parent called at 5 p.m. to say their child wasn’t home yet.  Finley said she checked the computer and quickly confirmed the child hadn’t gotten on the bus.

Another parent showed up at school to pick up her son. He wasn’t there. One phone call and transportation could tell the parent the boy was on the bus, when he got on and where the bus was located.

Students are required to use the Zonar cards to ride a Chanute Public Schools bus. The cards are also required for out-of-town activity and athletic events.  The card is in addition to the Student ID for high school and middle school students.

Guidelines for using the cards and consequences for not having a card or losing a Zonar card have also been adopted and went into effect Oct. 1. They are posted on Facebook.