Bus service to stop for some HCISD students

By Maria Gardner

Bus service could be ending in January for students living within two miles of several Hays CISD campuses as the district updates its hazardous routes list.

The update, which was approved at the Aug. 31 board of trustee meeting, would affect  an estimated 1,470 students who live within two miles of Fuentes Elementary, Barton and Wallace Middle School and both of the district’s high schools.

What makes a route hazardous? According to Hays CISD’s website, a route is labeled hazardous if students must walk along or across a freeway, expressway, overpass or an underpass where no walkway is provided and/or students must cross an uncontrolled traffic artery. (photo by Maria Gardner)

Tim Savoy, Hays CISD public information officer, said those students wouldn’t be eligible for bus service as new sidewalks are planned for FM 2770, FM 150 and Rebel Road, and Goforth Road.

With the installation of sidewalks expected to be complete by the end of the fall semester, those routes would no longer be deemed as “hazardous” under the Texas Education Code (TEC), Savoy said. Crossing guards will be on hand at the campuses to assist students.   

Under the TEC, districts can receive up to 10 percent of additional funding for bus service for students who live within two miles of a campus on routes categorized as hazardous.

“Anything under two miles, we do not get reimbursed from the state. Our board policy says that we will not operate any routes that we do not get state money from,” said Carter Scherff, Hays CISD chief operations officer, at an Aug. 21 board meeting.

Scherff said with the elimination of some bus routes, the district would have less than 10 percent of funding allocated to hazardous routes, which puts them in compliance with the state.

However, a handful of parents voiced concerns at the August 31 board meeting about students walking to school without supervision.

Esperanza Orozco, District 5 board trustee, said residents of the Plum Creek subdivision are concerned about sidewalks that flood in heavy rains.

Scherff said he’s requested a meeting with Kyle’s city engineer to discuss possible solutions for sidewalks that are prone to flooding.

Students who use FM 2770 near Kohler’s Crossing as their route will have to be trained on the safest place to cross, Scherff said.  

Scherff said he would request school resource officers (SROs) be posted in the morning near Kohler’s Crossing to ensure students’ safety.

Board trustees said it was important the district communicate any potential changes to parents and the community at-large. The district plans to notify affected parents in the coming weeks and again near the end of the semester in December.   

Savoy said this was a hard decision for the district and encourages people to voice their concern to officials at board meetings.

Some board trustees expressed concerns about the shortage in crossing guards and whether a change in pay could help to attract people to the position.  

Vanessa Petrea, Hays CISD at-large trustee, said parents would need to get involved in filling gaps usually filled by crossing guards.  

“It’s going to take the whole community kind of getting together to make it work,” Petrea said.

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