Kilgore students return to class today after a summer break and district staff were hard at work Tuesday getting ready for the new school year.

At Kilgore Primary School, staff set up tables in the library to hand out ID tags for the campus’ new CarRiderPro system. The system assigns parents an ID tag to hang from their rearview mirrors, which will trigger an electronic reader device, signaling staff inside the school to prepare students for pickup as their parents or guardians arrive.

The system, approved, purchased and set up this summer, is intended to make KPS pickups safer and more efficient.

“I think they’re excited but they had some questions,” said KPS Assistant Principal Stephanie Askew regarding parents picking up their assigned ID tags for the new system.

She said Principal Becky Montgomery spoke with parents to explain the new system at Monday’s “Meet the Teacher” event but she and other staff members were on hand Tuesday to hand out ID tags and answer questions for any parents who weren’t able to attend the event.

Askew said parents were eager to learn more about the system, which aims to improve the overall pickup process.

“They had some questions because it’s new. It (the CarRiderPro system) will make it safer and make it more efficient,” Askew said.

The new technology includes electronic tag readers set up near the line where parents wait to pick up their students. As they pass the reader, it will transmit the ID tag information to staff inside the school, who can then ready the right student for pickup.

This is a modification of the existing pickup system, Askew said.

“The process inside has not changed a great deal. It reads more like a toll tag. What’s great is we don’t have to send someone outside (to check with arriving parents.) That’s what will be safer and more efficient.”

There will be a bit of learning period, Askew said, but with time, she hopes parents come to appreciate the new technology.

“After we get things worked out, we hope parents see it’s a good thing.”

Staff were on hand from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and will also be available today for parents who still need to pick up their ID tags or who have questions about the system.

Over at Kilgore Middle School, teachers were preparing for the first day of school and offered some advice for parents and students as they take on the first day of the semester.

Resource aide and paraprofessional Annetha Kenney encouraged students to hold their heads high as they entered KMS for the first day of the school year.

“Come in and know that this is going to be a good year. Come in with confidence,” Kenney said.

Nearby, eighth-grade Texas History teacher and coach Ron Cole worked with resource aide and special education paraprofessional Joni Collum as they completed special education paperwork for student accommodations.

“Put a smile on your face and have an open mind to learn,” Cole advised students.

“Get lots of rest. Sleep is very important for the first day, for sure. Come in with your best attitude!” Collum said.

Upstairs, in the eighth-grade wing of the KMS campus, eighth-grade science teachers Brittney McCarty and Tonia Loper were collaborating over a computer in the science lab. Though they were hard at work, they had already completed preparations for the first day of school.

“We have been preparing for weeks,” McCarty said.

“We had parents show up last night so really everything was prepared before the parents got here so we could get organized,” Loper said. “The parents were here, they brought supplies and now we just get it all together and wait for them.”

Their advice for students on their first day at KMS?

“Start your day on the right foot. Smile,” McCarty said.

“Just be prepared and stay calm,” Loper said.

They also had a message for parents dropping off their kids at KMS.

“We’ll take care of the babies,” McCarty said. “We’ll take care of your children."

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