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Round Rock ISD rolling out bus ID program that improves student safety

Students scan an ID when they get on and off a bus to keep track of when they go to and from school.

AUSTIN, Texas — New identification technology is helping make parents at the Round Rock Independent School District feel more secure when their child rides the bus to and from school.

Through SMART Tag, a student scans their personalized ID card when they load and unload from their bus in real-time. Then, the information is sent to the district's transportation department and the parents. It also informs the bus driver if the student is getting on the incorrect bus.

The program is meant to increase security and safety while the student is in the care of the district.

"It's not like, 'Hey, did Johnny make it to school?' It is 'Johnny made it to school,'" said Tina Fausett, Round Rock ISD's director of transportation.

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The new technology passed as part of the 2018 School Bond. It first rolled out with special education buses at the beginning of the school year. By the end of the school year, it will be in all 225 school buses. 

The SMART Tag system transmits the information to the district, including the location of each bus. 

However, the ID itself is not a GPS, according to Fausett. It uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFI) technology, similar to how a cafeteria or library card works, she said.

The card only contains a student's name and SMART Tag bar code. Parents can track their children, but only if they sign up.

"For the security of every child, whether you are getting on or off a bus, or you are going to school, every parent wants to know did their kids make it safe, their students make it safe," said Fausett.

Other districts with the technology include Leander ISD, Georgetown ISD, Liberty Hill ISD, Lake Travis ISD and Eanes ISD.

RELATED: Back to School transportation safety

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