New Bus System Helps Parents Keep Track of Kids

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BAY COUNTY The Bay County School District is introducing a new system that will help parents keep track of their kids while they're riding the school bus.

The z-card roll-out began at Cedar Grove Elementary School a few weeks ago.

Officials say it's so successful, the district is now expanding z-cards to other schools.

Cedar Grove Elementary School students are now pros at using the new Zonar system on their school bus.

Each student has a card to swipe on and off the bus, allowing district officials and parents to track the location of their child.

Bay County Schools Transportation Director Robert Downin says, "Kids do get on the wrong bus. We have kids on one bus in the morning and another bus in the afternoon, and maybe they get on that early bus in the morning, and forget that they should've been on the others."

Cedar Grove Elementary Principal Phillip Campbell adds, "Now we can confirm in a matter of seconds, whereas before it was getting through on a phone call or waiting for phone calls or having folks go and track down and radio the bus drivers."

Since the school registered its first bus two weeks ago, officials say the system has run smoothly.

What the district was most concerned about was elementary school students losing these cards.

That's why a lot of administrators over at cedar grove elementary have attached lanyards to them to make for easy swiping.

A system that seems to be working, as Campbell says, "We've only had two cards lost."

The upgraded system also indicates a bus's speed, whether it needs maintenance, and how long a bus is idle.

Downin says the district can save $400 to $500 a day per fleet if the buses idle for less than five minutes: "Our goal is to not only keep track of the kids, keep them safe, and know where everybody's at, but also saves some money in the process"

The school district is installing the z-card system at the Highland School next.

Their plan to install z-card systems in all elementary schools by the end of the school year.

In addition to the z-card installations, the district will also be upgrading their entire bus fleet.