With classes back in session, the yellow school buses are rolling, and Hays USD 489 transportation director Russ Henningsen is asking drivers to be aware and watch for youngsters.

The year is off to a good start for the transportation department, he said.

Last year, the board of education voted to operate only rural routes transporting students who live more than 2.5 miles from the school they attend, which meant reworking bus routes.

This year, the revised routes are familiar, so the start of school is “a little easier than last year,” Henningsen said.

However, there is one change this year. Students in Head Start have gone to the 2.5 miles rule as well, he said.

That way, those families are following the same guidelines as when the youngsters start kindergarten.

Before the change, there were four Head Start routes, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. With the change, there are just two routes total — one for the morning session and one for the afternoon. One bus delivers the children to school in the morning and takes them home again in the morning. The process is repeated for the afternoon session, Henningsen said.

Henningsen said he’s not been made aware of any particular issues so far this year.

“We definitely have more cars on the road, especially on Hall Street with O’Loughlin (Elementary School) and (Fort Hays State University) and TMP traffic.

Henningsen reminds drivers that when the stop signs are out on the bus, “you cannot pass in any direction. Amber lights mean the bus is getting ready to stop.”

The transportation department earned a perfect review on the Kansas State Department of Education’s transportation safety review for 2014-15.

Just 37 percent of Kansas school districts achieved a perfect review, according to a letter from Keith Dreiling, state director of the KSDE school bus safety unit, to Superintendent Dean Katt.

Henningsen said the transportation audit included a review of drivers’ licenses, physicals, maintenance records and number of safety meetings.

“Your achievement of a perfect score on your safety review reflects credit upon you, your staff and your school district,” Dreiling wrote.