TEA Winner 2022: Mount Airy City Schools, North Carolina
- Location: Mount Airy, North Carolina
- Number of Employees: 300
- Number of Students: 1,700
- Tyler Client Since: 2020
- Tyler Products: Student Transportation, powered by Traversa®
- Website: www.mtairy.k12.nc.us
When Mount Airy City Schools in North Carolina made the decision to bring their students back to in-person instruction in August 2020, maintaining a safe transportation system was among the district’s largest concerns. The majority of the district’s students need bus transportation to attend classes. With the 40-year-old software then in use at the district, meeting this demand while following state and federal pandemic protocols posed a challenge.
This outdated system forced the team to rely primarily on pen and paper, creating difficulties for bus drivers and inefficiency in managing ever-changing routes. The district’s Superintendent Dr. Kim Morrison explained, “If bus drivers had a change that day and a student had a different drop-off point, we would have a delay.” This meant more time on the road, longer rides for students, and a higher risk of exposure.
With contact tracing becoming an unprecedented concern, the district found their existing technology could not effectively track which students had traveled on which bus, and where they sat. Students riding in close proximity and risking untracked exposure to COVID-19 became yet another hurdle for Mount Airy to overcome in the pursuit of safe return to school.
To address the challenge of bringing students back to school safely, Mount Airy received state funding for a two-year pilot of new transportation software. The district chose Tyler Technologies’ Student Transportation software suite and Tyler Drive on-board tablets. Morrison explained a crucial factor in their decision: “It was really important for us to start a good partnership with the company we had chosen. When we needed specificity or expertise, when we needed a software developer or a problem solver, Tyler had people who could help us.”
As the first district in the state to bring students back for full-time in-person instruction, there was pressure for Mount Airy City Schools to set precedents for safety. Morrison said, “We want to solve problems for children that impact more students than just ours. We feel all the students in our community, regardless of where they attend, and all the students in our state deserve to come to school safely and quickly, and make sure that they have a good experience.”
With Tyler’s integrated software and Tyler Drive tablets, bus drivers had access to turn-by-turn navigation, updated each day to reflect the routes designed by the transportation team. “If there was a change in the route, the bus drivers knew it immediately. We could reroute and not make everyone late for their arrival or pickup,” said Morrison.
The technology also empowered the district with student ridership tools, including student information appearing for drivers at assigned stops, scan card tracking for students as they board and disembark the bus, and seating charts. “If there are any incidents, we know where the students were riding, who they were near, and how long they rode the bus,” said Morrison. “The electronic seating charts are amazing. We are able to keep students three feet apart.” With these tools in place, contact tracing is possible for each student’s full day, from bus to classroom to bus.
Within a month or two of adopting the software, we had other school districts saying ‘We can do it. We can bring those kids back safely.’ Tyler Technologies’ Student Transportation was the tool we used to make that happen
Dr. Kim Morrison
Looking ahead, Morrison sees long-term benefits from the implementation of Tyler’s transportation technology at the district and has worked with state organizations to expand the pilot to 24 additional school districts. “I’ve convinced superintendents that this is really a transition they should make for long-term impact,” said Morrison. “For us, the software was such an upgrade from what we had been doing. This technology has allowed us to be more efficient, get students home safer, and have less buses on the road, which is also a cost savings for us.”
This expansion is proof of the influence and impact the Mount Airy team has had in the state, which only grew when they successfully returned to in-person schooling and paved the way for other districts in their state. “Within a month or two of adopting the software, we had other school districts saying ‘We can do it. We can bring those kids back safely.’ Tyler Technologies’ Student Transportation was the tool we used to make that happen. We knew we were doing the right thing. These students need to be in school. They need to be supported and cared for, and educators stepped up when no one else would. We are thankful for Tyler Technologies embracing this challenge with us and making an impact in many lives. A small and mighty school district changed the world.”
To learn more about Student Transportation, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org | 1.800.772.2260 | tylertech.com