Cleveland ISD deploying smart technology to manage bus routes

By Vanesa Brashier, editor@bluebonnetnews.com

New technology that tracks the location of school buses and identifies students as they get on and off the bus is being installed on all Cleveland ISD buses. These devices, made by Smart Tag in Georgetown, Texas, will go into effect on Tuesday, Jan. 21, and all students will be required to carry an ID card in order to ride their bus.

Each Cleveland ISD student will be assigned a Smart Tag radio frequency ID (RFID) card. Inside the RFID is a microchip that will have the student’s information, including their student ID number and address. In order to board or exit a Cleveland ISD bus, students will have to swipe their card.

“For grades pre-kindergarten through fifth, campus administrators and teachers will attach these cards to the students’ backpacks. For grades six through 12, students can attach the cards to their backpack or wear it around their necks,” said Stephen McCanless, Cleveland ISD director of administrative services.

The technology will help the district ensure that students are on the correct school bus at the end of the day and delivered to the right address. Each bus will have a tablet linked to the Smart Tag system that alerts a bus driver when a student is on the wrong bus or getting off at the wrong stop.

“If students try to board a bus they are not embedded to, the device will beep and they will not be able to get on,” McCanless said. “If a student loses their ID card before school lets out, the bus driver can input them into the system for that day. That’s a one-day courtesy only.”

The RFIDs are not a tracking system for students, McCanless said, and the technology is only in effect while they are on a Cleveland ISD school bus.

“We cannot monitor the students’ activities when they are at school or out of school. It’s not a tracker card,” he said.

It is imperative that students keep up with their cards and do not lose them. Replacement cards are $5 and students will be unable to ride their bus until they have a new one.

According to McCanless, the District purchased hard acrylic ID holders and good quality lanyards for each student.

Noel Lopez, director of operations for Smart Tag, says parents can use the technology to keep up with their child’s location as they make their way to and from school. They can also see if a bus is running late or having mechanical problems.

“If a bus breaks down and is delayed, the school district can send out a note to the parents of the students on that route to let them know. It will help with communication,” Lopez said.

Smart Tag began using the fleet-management technology system six years ago and currently is serving 40 school districts across nine states.

To learn more about Smart Tag, click the video link below:

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