A new school year kicks off tomorrow in Bossier Parish. With as hot as it's been lately, some parents might be concerned about buses with no air conditioning. But Bossier Schools Spokeswoman Sonja Bailes says the parish does have a number of buses with AC.

Keeping Cool

"The ones that are air conditioned go to our routes that are the longer routes, particularly in the Elm Grove area and the ones that are on Barksdale Air Force Base, because they have a lengthy ride," Bailes says. "But we do encourage parents to please send bottled water in their child's backpack, particularly for the ride home. In fact, they might want to send a frozen bottle of water so that by the afternoon, it's melted and that way, the child can stay hydrated."

Bailes says bus drivers have been educated on how to detect the signs of heat exhaustion or overheating. But she asks that parents help by keeping their kids cool from the inside out by sending that water along.

Observing the Rules of the Road

While bus drivers' main concern is student safety, motorists need to remember some rules as well.

For example, you must stop at least 30 feet in front of or behind a school bus that's loading or unloading kids, unless there's some type of raised or grassy median separating lanes of traffic.

And Bailes says to keep in mind that school zones will be closely monitored by police. So make sure you slow it down and watch out for the kids.

"Kids are excited about going back to school and, let's be honest, they're not always paying attention around them, and they might make sudden darts out into the street," Bailes says. "So be watchful, slow down."

Potential Fines

Anyone caught speeding in a school zone faces a mandatory court appearance and fines starting out at $150.

There's also a state law in place that states that at no point can a parent or anyone but the students and driver board a school bus. That's in violation of Louisiana Law RS 14:122 regarding Public Intimidation and Retaliation.

More Safety Info

Bailes says parents who need any information about their students' bus numbers and where they pick up and drop off can find that on the Bossier Parish Schools website. You can call the Transportation Department to get estimated times of arrival -- and bus driver names and cell phone numbers.

Listen to my complete school bus safety interview with Sonja Bailes here: