If you've been away since spring, or if you simply haven't been paying attention, a lot of things have changed in the Rockdale Independent School District.
There's a brand new intermediate school on a new site at the western city limits, Rockdale High School has doubled in size, there's a new wing at the junior-high and the old elementary will serve half the students it did last year.
Some of these will require a change in driving habits around campuses and it's not too early to start thinking about that. First day of classes is Monday, Aug. 24.
Obviously the biggest change is the new campus. Rockdale has never had a school accessible directly off US 79 before and we're going to need to get used to much more traffic in that area twice each school day.
The Texas Department of Transportation is installing school zone signs and speed limits are changing to slow everyone down on the highway.
It's the long-stated goal of the district that there will be no students walking to school at the new campus. The district is providing free busing.
The one place where drivers don't want to let their guards down is at the old elementary, which now will house only grades K-2, instead of K-5 as in the past.
School traffic there has been a congested nightmare and it ought to improve dramatically. But with the dramatic improvement comes added responsibility.
Just because there are less vehicles we've all got to resist the temptation to let down our guard. Absolutely nothing would take the bloom off the "we've got new buildings" pride than to have that accident we never had in the past at the elementary because everyone was extra cautious.
Traffic patterns will be pretty much the same at the other two campuses with one change. Childress Street no longer goes from the highway to Murray. The new high school addition goes across what used to be a section of the street.
Be prepared to slow down, pay attention and, above all, watch out for the kids. It's a new era not just in education, but also in driving for Rockdalians.—M.B.