UNION COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The Union County Public School (UCPS) System is using technology in a new way when it comes to buses and academics.
Starting this school year, parents will be able to track their children's school bus by downloading an app that will show them the exact location of the bus.
Administrators say this will allow parents to know exactly when to drop off and pick up their child from the bus stop.
UCPS is also using technology to help with the district's literacy campaign by starting a reading buddy program this school year. Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan says he wants all of the district's roughly 3,000 1st graders to have a reading buddy.
A buddy can interact either face-to-face or virtually.
"You can be a relative of a first grader in Chicago, and wherever you are - as long as you have a headset, a speaker, and a microphone - you will have the ability to read with a child," Houlihan said.
Houlihan thinks this is a hi-tech way to engage students and get them to read. The plan is for the students to read with the buddy for 30 minutes once a week.
The superintendent says reading scores have slipped over the past three years. Once upon a time, about 75% of the students up to third grade were reading on grade level. Now, that number has dipped to about 68% of the students making the grade.
"As superintendent, that is unacceptable to me," the superintendent said. "So for the entire year we evaluated what we were doing from a reading and writing standpoint."
Also announced is that students will have greater access to the library. All students will get a library card and can keep checked out materials for three weeks. The district hopes these additions will equal higher test scores.
Houlihan says he will monitor these initiatives throughout the school year to see if they are helping students make the grade.