Bay County School Buses Get High Tech

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PANAMA CITY - Bay County parents and students will see some high tech upgrades to their school buses when they head back to school next week. Some of the new upgrades include a GPS system that will track your child.

The new technology is designed to keep your child safe when they ride the bus.

Bay District Schools Transportation officials are tightening up all loose ends before school starts next week.

This includes installing brand new GPS technology into the 147-bus fleet.

"We want to do everything we can to assure parents that their kids are safe on that bus and to know where they're at all times when they're on that bus," said Bay District Schools Director of Transportation, Robert Downin.

Children in Pre-K through 5th grade who ride the bus will be given color coded "Zonar cards."

They'll have your child's information on them plus what bus they're supposed to take.

When your child takes the bus this year, all they have to do is scan the Zonar card and from there the district will know when and where your child got on and off the bus.

The school district spent more than 100-thousand dollars on the new cards and GPS technology.

It's something school board members believe is worth the purchase.

"As a parent, I believe the parents out there should be very happy with this program because again it adds an extra layer of accountability and hopefully safety so we know when their students get on the bus and when they get off the bus," said school board member, Steve Moss.

While other board members say kids generally get on the right bus, getting off is a different situation.

"As students get off the bus at the wrong place or stay at the bus until the end of the route and low and behold, the bus driver would find a student on the bus," said school board member, Jerry Register.

With school gearing up in less than a week, transportation officials are training bus drivers on the new technology.

District transportation officials say the new Zonar card program will start at two elementary schools.

They'll expand it to all elementary schools as they work out the problems with the GPS system.


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