SEARCY, Ark. — The first and last part of many students’ school day is a bus ride, and the digital age is making that part of the day safer and more efficient. This school year Searcy Public Schools and Pea Ridge will be the first districts in the state to implement the SMART tag™ system.
It’s likely you’ve heard of a kid getting on the wrong bus, missing their stop, or forgetting their parent is picking them up on a particular day. Those are all things that are hard to catch, but with this news system, those problems and more should be a thing of the past.
We’ve all heard the song the wheels on the bus go round and round, but in Searcy, you can add another verse: the SMART tag™ system goes ding.
Searcy Public Schools Transportation Director David Dale remembered, “Before this, they were using a little handheld clicker to count how many kids are on their bus.”
No longer is everything tracked on paper. It has moved online with all buses in Searcy Public Schools using a tablet and each student wearing a readable chip which together ensures each kid gets on and off the right bus at the right place.
“I’ve got two younger kids here as well,” Dale stated. “As a parent that’s what I would want for sure instead of, you know, we had a lot of so and so is on bus 43 when they should have been on bus 12.”
Dale was hired for his role after years of working for FedEx and UPS delivery services, so he knew he wanted to modernize how children are delivered to school and back home. He chose SMART tag™ because it is a tech company for school buses created by a bus driver himself.
The district started testing the program at McRae Elementary School last semester, and the difference was noticed immediately.
“I love it,” said John Mercer Jr. who has been a bus driver for 26 years in the district. “Now we have one simple platform. Everyone knows who’s who and where’s where, and the school will know where the kid is at all times.”
Paula Smith, is a mother whose children both tested SMART tag™. She said, “It will help out a lot more because this year my kids are riding two different busses, and Charley is a lot younger than Bailyn and so that will help us out a lot.”
By October, Dale hopes to launch a parent portal where the same information the school can access is available to parents, including a live map of their students while they are on it.
“Work smarter not harder,” Dale explained.
SMART tag™ has been used for 9 years in over 80 school districts and its encrypted servers have never been breached or hacked.
Paula Smith has this advice for other parents, “Just make sure your kid has their tag on them before school on their bag or their neck, and it will be an easy-going process.”
If you would like to learn more about SMART tag™ features including how it tracks designated guardians, click here.