Just north of Tampa, Florida lies Pasco County School District, a district that contains 103 schools and 81,157 students. Pasco County has 48 preschools, 63 elementary schools, 36 middle schools, and 24 high schools. For a school district of this size, accurate accounting of school bus ridership can make a huge difference in state funding.
Coordinated through six bus compounds located across Pasco’s 868 square miles, Pasco County Schools Transportation Department transports more than half of the enrolled students to and from school each day for a total of over eight million miles annually. With 40 years of experience in Florida schools, director of Transportation Services for Pasco County School District, Gary Sawyer uses Remark Office OMR “…to assist with counting ridership on our school buses. This software is an important part of our process to more accurately count ridership, equating to millions of dollars in funding.”
Gary explained the importance of accurate data results as the, “Department of Education in the state of Florida funds school district transportation departments based on ridership. Ridership equates to dollars and in the case of our district it equates to millions of dollars. An inaccurate count of students riding the bus then directly results in loss of funding.”
Ridership is measured four times per year over an eleven-day period. During these data collection periods, bus drivers have to fill out a form to mark which students were on their bus. Gary encountered three challenges with the county’s previous process used to gather this ridership information. First were the limitations of the existing paper bubble forms available. The available preprinted forms were not able to capture all of the information needed for this task and were not easy for bus drivers to complete accurately. Second was the cost associated with the preprinted forms. There are a lot of buses and the process required a lot of forms which became quite expensive. Third was the fact that, “The paper has to live on the bus for eleven days, and still be in good shape to come back to run through the scanner.” Unfortunately, many filled forms were returned to Gary in poor condition and were not able to be read by their dedicated OMR scanner.
With a unique set of requirements for the collection of the ridership data in Pasco County, Gary searched for an alternative and came upon the Remark Office OMR software from Gravic.
A vital need for finding a data collection solution was finding a platform that is efficient and accurate. These forms collect large amounts of information needing to accommodate eleven days of attendance for 40+ students on each given bus. At the end of the period, the bus drivers’ hand in their completed forms, at which point Gary can scan and begin collecting ridership data.
Gary began using Remark Office OMR to revamp the process of collecting the ridership data. Gary used the Remark Team’s form creation services to create a custom form to simplify the process for the bus drivers. Forms were created to comply with his team’s specific needs while also being designed for optimal scanning with Remark and to provide data in the format Gary needed for reporting. Gary’s forms included unique numeric codes preprinted on each form in a barcode format. In Remark, this barcode is read and linked to a database which allows Gary to identify individual bus, bus drivers, and student riders. A handwritten (ICR) region was also added so that school bus drivers who are taking attendance from new pickup spots can add names that aren’t on their regular route. The forms are scanned and the data is tabulated using existing image scanners.
A specific feature that stood out in Gary’s use of Remark Office OMR is the ability to export the information collected for further analysis. Using the custom text export feature in Remark Office OMR, the software, “Converts the data into the exact format that I need to export into.” The ability for customized forms and flexible exporting makes for, “A tool that can catch on among other districts.”
We asked Gary what others can take away from his experience with Remark Office OMR and he shared, “You couldn’t ask for it to be better!” Talking about the success of Remark Office OMR’s implementation, he shares, “When we went with the new bubble forms we had more than a 5% increase in our ridership count.”
Gary summarized his experience best, “The software works incredibly well for our needs. The customer support is fabulous and you can’t beat the price. Every time I have called for support it has been nothing less than excellent. The Remark team is knowledgeable and helpful, never seeming to want to cut a support call short. I wish all the software vendors I deal with were as good as the Remark Team.”
Want to learn more about how Remark Office OMR can make your data collection needs a breeze? Then sign up for a live webinar or request a free trial to try the application for yourself. You can also contact our sales team at [email protected] or 1.800.858.0860 for more information. We look forward to hearing from you!