ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — As the weather cools down, waiting outside longer than you have to is frustrating for some parents and their children who ride the school bus.
“Certainly there are some days where you don’t want to be out in the elements, you want to come right down and hop on,” Jake Finley explains.
Finley, whose kids attend Elsa England Elementary School in the Round Rock Independent School District, says their school bus was late 10 minutes this week. “There’s definitely days where they’re not on time, and we’re kind of outside by the road waiting,” Finley says.
“Because of the traffic here, also buses break down — it’s human, a bus driver might be coming in late to work — something happened, their car broke down,” are all reasons a bus may be late says Scott Copeland, assistant director of Transportation for Round Rock ISD.
To help avoid an unexpected wait, the school district has started a new program that will text parents when their child’s school bus won’t be on time. The text message will say your name, and your child’s school bus number and school.
If your cell phone information is up to date with your child’s school, you should have already received a text message from the district, asking you to opt in to receive those notifications when your child’s bus is running late. If you haven’t received an “opt-in” text, contact your child’s school to make sure they have the correct number.
Few people like to stand around, but at least now, parents can plan for it. “Definitely getting that will help set the morning routine for us. If I do have to call into work and let them know I’m going to be a little bit later, at least they’ll know that and expect me at that time,” Finley says.
Round Rock ISD rolled out the text program to elementary schools in September, and to secondary schools last month. Since implementing it, the district has used the system 57 times to notify parents of late buses.
Hutto ISD will pilot a similar program beginning in the spring semester. A spokesperson says the hardware and software is being installed now, but likely won’t be ready until January. Leander ISD just launched an email pilot for late bus notifications and the district is researching text messaging and a bus app.