Pembroke Central School District Utilizes Transfinder for Continued Transportation Success

Pembroke Central School District (PCSD) was honored with the inaugural Transfinder Top Transportation Teams award in June. The award was created by Transfinder in 2022 as a way to recognize the inspiring leadership demonstrated by schools facing the challenges brought on by COVID-19.

One of only six districts to win the award, PCSD received the top prize based on anonymous survey responses from their department members. Surveyed teams were comprised of transportation supervisors, dispatchers, drivers and other core transportation department employees who were asked to anonymously rank their transportation teams on culture, leadership and benefits. Survey questions cover a variety of areas, including morale within the department, leadership, safety, and benefits. Districts who scored the highest in employee satisfaction received the Top Transportation Teams designation. 

Technology has contributed to making PCSD great. And that technology is Transfinder.

Laurie Kearney, who has been a driver for 22 years and a trainer for over a decade, says the technology has been a game changer when it comes to maintaining a successful operation. 

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Kearney said. “This technology is amazing, this is what makes the world turn and it has made our jobs so much easier from beginning to end.”

Pembroke utilizes multiple Transfinder solutions within its operation including Routefinder, Servicefinder and Stopfinder. 

“Our mechanics just started using Servicefinder to keep track of all of their expenses,” Hackett said. “Their hours, parts, everything in one place. We used to do this in files and on a spreadsheet, and now it brings it all into one location. Our mechanics are all very computer savvy, and they dove right into Servicefinder.”

Servicefinder’s browser-based fleet maintenance and asset management solution helps improve fleet productivity, tracks costs, reduces paperwork and the potential risk of missing critical repairs. It can also manage facilities, vehicles, assets, and equipment while enabling the user to maintain facilities, conduct That is maintenance, monitor asset life cycles and analyze reports to make data-driven decisions.

That’s just one of the tech tools from Transfinder Pembroke has. Other solutions include Routefinder PLUS, the parent app Stopfinder, the field trip creator Tripfinder and Viewfinder, which provides the big picture of the district’s transportation operation.

Donna Hackett, PCSD’s former transportation supervisor, was first introduced to the award via an email from Transfinder president and CEO, Antonio Civitella. “I got a link from Transfinder explaining what the award was and what the process entailed. Every single staff member; drivers, monitors, mechanics, were asked to fill out a questionnaire of about 20 questions,” Hackett said. “They had to share different components of our department, what they like, what they don’t like, how we do things. Their responses first got us in the top three of small districts under a hundred staff, and then we had the top score out of all of the districts.”

Hackett has been with Pembroke for 33 years, alternating as a driver for 13 years, supervisor for 20, and driver again for the past three. According to Hackett, 20 years ago the department was a much different place. After merging two schools into one operation, Hackett says the division in staff was incredibly evident. 

“Our district was built from basically nothing,” Hackett said. “At the time we didn’t even have a computer system, just a desktop with an Excel spreadsheet and that was how we did life.”

Since then, Pembroke has evolved in many ways. With team building, updated software and help from industry associations, the district has seen an immense change in the last decade. Hackett says the department owes a large portion of its success to the New York Association of Pupil Transportation (NYAPT). 

“We received great mentoring from people in NYAPT,” Hackett said. “Ideas that built us, led us, they nurtured us, NYAPT was truly the bottom line of our success. Then of course we did our chapter meetings, and I was on a lot of committees, I became an executive board member for nine years. NYAPT and NAPT gave us the tools and then our department just grabbed onto them and made them into what we are, which is outstanding.” 

Hackett also credits a great deal of Pembroke’s success to her fellow transportation department team members. 

Julie Lawson, Pembroke’s current transportation supervisor, and Hackett have worked closely since Lawson took over the role earlier this summer. Lawson, who worked as a bus driver for 26 years, says the department feels like home away from home.

“We all get along very well, we all talk about things,” Lawson said. “Most of our drivers feel comfortable enough to come to us and share any ideas or concerns and we listen. We have to listen, and I think that is where a lot of our success comes from, we are all basically family.” 

Lawson and Hackett have fostered a close working relationship in their push toward a seamless transition helping ensure the future success of the district and the department.

Learning the technology has helped make the transition seamless.

“There’s a lot to learn, but I have the backing from the drivers, I have the backing from Donna, I have the backing from our team, to make this work and to make this department even better than it has been,” Lawson said. “That’s my goal right now and Donna has been a great mentor for me, and I couldn’t do this without her.”

Since transitioning into her new role as transportation supervisor, Lawson has undergone extensive training in many areas, including getting up to speed with critical department programs and software. 

“I’ve been training with the Transfinder application and I’m not perfect at it, but I’m getting there,” Lawson said. “I’m lucky that we have so much support in that regard.”

PCSD started using Transfinder in 2006. Prior to adopting the software, the district was using an Access Databank to store and utilize department information such as routing, schedules, and student data.

“That’s another piece of the puzzle,” Hackett said. “All the amazing vendors that we work with. Companies like Transfinder that have helped give us the best information and the best product for Pembroke, and they don’t care that we’re just a little bitty district. I love feeling that we are just as important as a big district when it comes to their service to us.”

Hackett met Transfinder president and CEO Antonio Civitella at an NYAPT conference years ago and was familiar with his products prior to adopting the software in 2006. When Hackett began searching for a new routing, scheduling and fleet maintenance solution she did her due diligence.

“I did extensive research and considered a few different vendors,” Hackett said. “Once I had made my decision, I put together a detailed spreadsheet and sent it over to the board.”

After the board gave approval and the district was ready to move forward, Hackett began the training and implementation process.

“I was a one man show at the time, except for Laurie Kearney, Pembroke’s longtime driver and trainer,” Hackett said. “Laurie helped with training but at that time we were a small operation and we needed as many resources as possible.” 

Transfinder’s team of experts helped with the training and implementation.

“Again, ease of use across our pallet of users is important,” Hackett explained. “I have enough to do without teaching somebody a program. We also work really closely with our parents, so we want to keep them in the loop as much as possible.”

Speaking of parents, Stopfinder’s all-in-one parent engagement app is designed to help the transportation team have a two-way conversation with parents, providing them with information about their child’s bus schedule while integrating directly with the proprietary Routefinder PLUS data, ensuring real-time accurate updates are provided to parents as Routefinder is continuously updated throughout the day.

“All of this is what makes us great,” Lawson said. “It’s a family atmosphere in every aspect, from our vendors to our associations, it’s just a great community that has really come together to serve these kids the best that we can.”