With school starting next month it’s time to register students for school bus pick-up/drop-off.

Stephenville ISD’s Director of Transportation David Woods sat down with the E-T to talk about what parents need to know, safety and new things the department is implementing.

"Every student who rides the bus and every member of each family — like if you have two brothers and a sister — each one has to be registered annually,” Woods said.

To register visit www.sville.us, select your child’s school, click on the “register returning students” banner, sign in and follow the steps until you see “Bus Rider Permit” on the right hand menu and complete the required information.

Woods said registration is due by the first day of school, which is Aug. 16.

Woods said there has been an increase in students riding the bus.

“Last year we added a route and a half, so we had to expand and that’s a good thing,” Woods said. “We get kids to school and that is what it’s all about.”

Transfer students who are located out of district are not eligible to register for SISD buses.

“We have some transfers who are coming from Lingleville or Dublin, Morgan Mill and even Huckabay. Generally rural students have a parent that works here so they come in as a transfer student,” Woods said. “But we don’t bus transfer students. It’s just the way it is.”

Woods also asks parents and students to be patient the first two weeks of school as it can become pretty chaotic.

“They need to be at the bus stops five minutes before their pick-up times and pick-up times can fluctuate with traffic and accidents, but we try to stick to the times,” Woods said.

Parents will be contacted by the transportation department with their child’s bus number and time of pickup after the registration process is complete.

When school begins, the public also needs to be cautious and abide by the laws surrounding a school bus.

“When those yellow lights start flashing on a school bus they need to start stopping and when the red lights and arm come out they by law must stop. There are children that are exposed at that moment and you never know what’s in a child’s mind — they drop something and run out to get it or whatever — by law, they must stop,” Woods said. “I have spoken to all law enforcement officers and they are very serious about it.”

Woods said there have been issues specifically along the stops off US Hwy. 281.

“We have quite a few hotspots and it’s scary and an extreme safety hazard,” Woods said.

Passing a school bus is a misdemeanor and punishable by a $625 fine with some convictions receiving a surcharge from the state. A second offense can result in the suspension of your driver’s license for up to six months.

Woods also suggests contacting police about anyone you see passing a school bus and report the plate number, make and model of the vehicle.

“Our drivers try to, but they’re very engaged in getting kids on and off the bus,” Woods said. “Nothing like citizens out there helping out.”

School buses do not turn right on red and stop at all railroad crossings.

Woods also explained some new things happening with buses and the transportation department like the WIFI initiative discussed in a previous E-T article with Deborah Hummel.

“It’s going to provide (students) access to their school work that makes the riding time productive,” Woods said. “Also studies have shown, and I’m interested to see, that it helps with discipline. It occupies the student with something productive and not mess with someone sitting next to them just to get a reaction.”

Another thing that was recently passed at the SISD board of trustees meeting on July 17 is taking out the underground tanks that contain diesel and unleaded fuel and replacing them with an above ground tank that can hold both.

“It takes us out of any EPA situation and reduces our insurance, so we’ll save $4,000 on insurance as well as $1,200 tank inspections every year,” Woods said. “It’s just going to be a win-win.”