When you’re in charge of field trips for the third-largest school district in the state of Texas, you want something that helps you stay organized and efficient. That’s why Codie Roberts, field trip coordinator for Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, is thankful for busHive. Not only has it come in handy for regular field trip routes, but it has also proven innovative for COVID-19-era applications.
A Streamlined Process
In a typical school year, Cy-Fair school buses travel 9.5 million miles. Roberts processes around 15,000 field trips per school year, which account for almost 500,000 of those miles.
The district has been using busHive’s software since June of 2018. With 2,600 active transportation personnel in the system—and 1,250 active users in the field trip request program designed for teachers and coaches—a clear and efficient system is paramount.
busHive’s field trip request portal effectively keeps Cy-Fair organized with upcoming trip requests. The request page can be set up to identify required fields that teachers or coaches must complete in order to submit a request.
When field trip requests are made, the activity group populates the correct corresponding campus budget codes. This keeps the process streamlined and allows for more accurate billing. The request page in the field trip request portal can be modified as necessary based on the various curriculum types, which Roberts says saves her field trip office lots of time in receiving unnecessary emails and/or phone calls.
“It’s so streamlined that it really helps us with time management,” she explained.
Upon submittal of a trip, the appropriate principal or school administrator is notified by an automated email. They can then review all the trip details at a glance and approve or decline with comments if needed.
Additional approval levels can be added, as needed by the type of trip. For example, an out of town overnight trip may require four levels of approval, while an overnight out of state trip may require five levels of approval. Details of the approval history can be reviewed at any time.
The field trip office at Cy-Fair’s transportation department is the last level of approval for the new requests, which are then imported into busHive. At this time, Roberts and her team identify specific needs and code the trips for driver selection.
Betty Gonzalez, Cy-Fair’s field trip data management specialist, manages all the incoming requests and prepares them for the district’s five transportation centers to fill assignments. She expressed how much she likes busHive’s proactive system, which alerts the user if a driver or vehicle has been double booked. The program allows her to change the selection or ignore it, depending on what is needed, or even to “down” a vehicle so that it is not inadvertently assigned.
A Valuable Partner
Tracking all aspects of a field trip is made easy though busHive. Approvals, itinerary and billing are easily accessible.
A grid view allows Roberts to easily do searches on all the data fields, after which she can quickly export data to an Excel spreadsheet. This has saved time for quick inquiries requested by other departments within the district.
“It’s very flexible. You can pull various reports,” Roberts said. She related that the system made it easier when dealing with personnel changes by allowing the correct reports to be pulled for new staff members.
But Roberts and her team don’t just appreciate busHive because it’s so versatile and user friendly. They appreciate how responsive, friendly and customer service-oriented busHive support is.
The staff at busHive are not only ready to assist when asked, but they also proactively seek out ways to help clients like Cy-Fair become better.
“We love working with them. I can email support and they’ll get right back to me,” Roberts praised. “They try to listen to your needs and think of different ways to help,”
“We’re clients but we’re all just one big team,” she explained.
A Timely Solution
Since busHive is cloud-based, it has facilitated an easy transition for transportation staff to work from home. When Cy-Fair schools were closed because of COVID-19, Roberts related that she was able to go to her home computer to check the status of all field trips.
“I could instantly jump in, see what we had and start canceling trips,” she shared. “I didn’t have to get into our district’s servers or get clearance from the district because [busHive] is web-based.”
One of the ways that busHive works closely with Cy-Fair to innovate and come up with better solutions is illustrated in a feature request brought about because of COVID-19. Even as the coronavirus has changed the way that transportation departments must operate, busHive is on the front lines.
Field trips are opportunities for Cy-Fair school bus drivers to make extra money. In the past, drivers gathered weekly in the break room for the field trip selection process, a carefree event the team termed “Bingo.”
Roberts shared that the district has been considering an online way to do this, even before the coronavirus hit. Now, as the district faces future planning for new ways to maintain social distancing with its drivers because of COVID-19, Roberts reached out to busHive about a new way to go about offering available field trips. She said that busHive understood the need and has been “very perceptive,” adding that she was glad she’d reached out to them.
Consequently, the company is beginning to work on a driver portal that will allow drivers to sign in, view available trips and make selections. busHive even thanked her for the suggestion, as they see more people benefitting from it in the future.
“I am so excited about coordinating with busHive on this project,” Roberts declared. Not only will the new process save time for the staff and drivers, but it may also allow more drivers to participate and make them happier.
Adjustments necessitated by COVID-19 may even turn out to be opportunities.
“I think we’re all going to learn a lot of new and better ways to do things because of this,” Roberts mused.