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KWRL bus cooperative introduces new features, services, and website to efficiently transport students

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The KWRL bus cooperative serving Kalama, Woodland, Ridgefield, and La Center school districts recently redesigned their website and added new technology to provide more effective methods of transporting students and helping parents learn about bus routes, stops, and schedules online.

The KWRL team (Daryl Rodriguez, Brandy Jackson, and Shannon Barnett) worked hard to introduce a new website design and implement new features.
The KWRL team (Daryl Rodriguez, Brandy Jackson, and Shannon Barnett) worked hard to introduce a new website design and implement new features. 

Using a combination of new website design and intricate back-end computer databases, KWRL now offers new methods of registration for bus service as well as finding bus routes and schedules. These changes were accomplished thanks to the hard work of the KWRL team, including Transportation Specialists Brandy Jackson and Daryl Rodriguez.

KWRL designed their new website in-house using Google’s G-Suite services. In addition to integrating seamlessly with the system already used by Woodland Public Schools, the approach made the new website effectively free. “We use Google’s G-Suite for our website as a more cost-effective approach to provide the technology our community expects at the lowest possible cost,” explained Shannon Barnett, KWRL Transportation Director. “Running the cooperative efficiently means finding solutions that offer the blend of features our customers want while also keeping our costs low.”

New KWRL features include finding bus routes using an interactive map, student bus numbers in Skyward, electronic registration, and much more.  
New KWRL features include finding bus routes using an interactive map, student bus numbers in Skyward, electronic registration, and much more. 

Find your bus route using an interactive map.

In order to allow parents and students to easily see their bus route and stops, the KWRL team created an interactive map accessible on the new website. Website users can enter their bus number and see where the route travels on a scrollable and scalable Google map including every bus stop.

The interactive map will make finding new routes and bus stops easier for parents and students. “Whenever we change our buses, we also change the bus number,” said Rodriguez. “By implementing features like the interactive map, we’re working to offer additional methods for parents to learn these updates with as little effort as possible on their part.”

 

Student bus routes soon available on Skyward.

Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, KWRL will upload their database to Skyward, enabling parents and students to see their bus number right from their Skyward accounts. “We’re making this change consistent throughout all the districts we serve,” said Barnett. “Changes like these will make life easier for our parents and students.”

To protect against possible Skyward system downtime, KWRL will provide each district with direct access to a shared drive with the student database for their district. “If the Skyward system is down, districts will still be able to access student data using their shared drive,” said Barnett. “Offering redundant systems ensures our districts can handle almost any eventuality.”

All students using bus transportation in the 2017-18 school year must register either online or in-person by July 11, 2017.  
All students using bus transportation in the 2017-18 school year must register either online or in-person by July 11, 2017. 

All students who ride the bus must register this summer.

In order to implement these changes and streamline the system, KWRL requires every student planning to ride the bus in the 2017-18 school year to register for bus services by July 11. “We want to get everyone in all the districts we serve on the same page,” explained Barnett. “This registration process involves a big push to ensure all students register for transportation services by July 11.”

In order to effectively communicate the registration requirement, Rodriguez visited every school building in all four districts served by KWRL to discuss the change with school administrators and staff. On June 1, KWRL distributed postcards to each and every student in all the districts served with information about online registration.

Students with special needs for transportation must apply in-person. “We hope to implement online registration eventually for our special needs students, however there are many more steps to approval so we're holding off for now,” explained Barnett.

Students must register by July 11, 2017. Parents can register their students online at www.kwrl.org. For families without internet access, parents can register their student for bus transportation in-person at their school district’s main office or the KWRL office located at 989 Frazier Lane, Woodland, WA 98674.

Online transportation registration offers families an easy way to register their students while making KWRL's system more efficient.  
Online transportation registration offers families an easy way to register their students while making KWRL's system more efficient. 

Students using bus transportation can now register online.

Parents can register their bus-riding students directly from KWRL’s new website at www.kwrl.org. In addition to offering an easier method for parents to register their children, this change will significantly reduce the labor involved in entering students into the system while also contribute to environmental concerns by reducing the amount of paper involved.

“Currently, we receive many registrations on paper, fax, and other methods where these KWRL employees must enter these registrations manually into our computer system,” explained Rodriguez. “Not only does this approach create a significant amount of labor, it adds steps where human error can enter the system, while also involves a surprising amount of paperwork.”

The KWRL team has plans for the future based on the feedback they receive from school employees, parents, and students. (The KWRL team: Daryl Rodriguez (seated), Brandy Jackson (left), and Shannon Barnett (right))
The KWRL team has plans for the future based on the feedback they receive from school employees, parents, and students. (The KWRL team: Daryl Rodriguez (seated), Brandy Jackson (left), and Shannon Barnett (right)) 

KWRL plans for the future. 

KWRL continues to work with the data collected from the new bus GPS tracking system implemented earlier this year to create more accurate schedules and routes. “We regularly work to fine-tune the timing of the drop-off and pick-up times on our routes so parents can more readily know when to expect their student’s bus,” said Barnett. “By ensuring our data is also accurate, we can provide parents and students with estimates of drop-off and pick-up times that are as close as possible to reality.”

KWRL wants to hear from parents and students. 

With the introduction of these new features, KWRL would like to know what parents and students think about them. Parents and students can contribute feedback using an email link on KWRL’s website. “Constructive feedback provides us with guideposts to what’s working and what needs improvement,” explained Barnett. “Learning what features our customers want helps us improve our services and become more efficient for everyone involved.”

For more information, visit KWRL’s website at www.kwrl.org. Parents can also call KWRL directly at (360) 225-8075 or visit the KWRL office located at 989 Frazier Lane, Woodland, WA 98674.

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