School buses shuttling Palatine Township Elementary District 15 students will be outfitted with devices that allow parents to track routes in real-time.
The school board has approved a $208,656, three-year contract with Synovia Solutions to install GPS technology onto the district's fleet of buses.
Officials called the GPS system a safety measure that will monitor bus drivers for speeding, railroad crossing violations and other infractions. The district also expects to save fuel costs by keeping tabs on drivers for excessive idling.
"This is going to be hard, quick, accurate data for us to use," Superintendent Scott Thompson said.
Through an online "parent portal," moms and dads can follow their children's buses on the road by punching in a password onto a website.
Officials also are considering whether to require students to scan ID cards each time they board or step off a bus. In February, Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire became one of the first schools in the country to let parents use mobile devices to track when and where their kids scanned such cards.
In District 15, Thompson said the process -- students holding up the cards to a reader on the bus -- could put drivers behind schedule.
Indianapolis-based Synovia Solutions also has advised the district to use the GPS system for six months before introducing ID cards.
The investment in the software comes about a year after an ill-fated proposal to outsource district busing to a private company. Last June, the school board narrowly approved a two-year contract with the district's transportation union that ended contentious talks on outsourcing and student safety.
Under the terms of the deal, bus drivers must now go through a more rigorous physical.
A union representative did not immediately return messages for comment on the GPS plan.
Synovia Solutions will now start rolling out the hardware and should finish the project by the start of the next school year.
District 15 educates about 12,000 students at elementary and junior high schools in Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Hoffman Estates.