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Parents voice concerns over changes to Katy ISD bus routes

Thursday, August 16, 2012
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Dozens of parents met Thursday night to discuss new changes to Katy ISD bus routes.

The parents are upset about new bus rules that go into effect when school starts next week. Katy ISD buses will only pickup elementary students who live more than a half-mile from school, and secondary students who live more than a mile from campus.

"The bottom line is just safety, the traffic issues that are gonna be here are gonna be immense," Katy ISD parent Maria Valdez said.

"They said if parents like us are not happy, then we can just move it and there are other parents who can move in who are more than happy to move in an take advantage of Katy ISD," parent Joy Shah said.

One parent at the meeting says her daughter would have to cross a creek to get to school.

A statement from Katy ISD Superintendent Alton Frailey reads in part, "Our staff has been reviewing the data and input received from parents and other members of the community. Based on their work, some routes have been restored..." and continues, "...our team continues to review routes throughout the district." Katy ISD Superintendent Alton Frailey issued the following statement on the issue:

Very often in our lives, whether it is in our family life or work life, we face challenges that force us to make tough decisions  decisions that sometimes quite frankly we really do not want to make. But the circumstances dictate that something has to be done or else we shirk our responsibility either as a parent, a business leader, or as a school district. Sometimes these decisions impact others negatively, which makes the decision making process that much harder. The most recent decision to reduce bus service in Katy ISD was one of those times. We knew that removing bus routes would have a tremendous impact on our community, particularly on those who have come to rely on the high level of transportation services we have provided for so many years. However, I believe that it is necessary to understand why these changes were recommended by the administration and approved by the Board of Trustees.

In spite of our proactive efforts to recruit and maintain drivers, we have struggled year after year to have drivers for all of our routes on a consistent basis. The addition of four new schools, in direct response to our continued growth, created a condition where our transportation staff could no longer maintain the level of service we have historically provided. Without a reliable team of qualified drivers, providing the same level of service is simply not possible. It was for this reason  and this reason alone  that we made the recommendation to the Board of Trustees to decrease our transportation services. Many have alleged that we do not care about their children, yet I can tell you that there is not one single person who was part of this decision who would want to see any child come to harm because of this change.

I know there are petitions circulating asking for restoration of bus service to last year's levels. If given the opportunity, I would sign each one of them. But unfortunately, none of those signatures will add a single driver and change the fundamental facts of this situation. That does not mean, however, we are doing nothing and simply accepting things the way they are today.

Since we opened our transportation hotline last week, our staff has been reviewing the data and input received from parents and other members of the community. Based on their work some routes have been restored, including those routes that bring students from east of the Grand Parkway to Cinco Ranch Junior High and High School. Our team continues to review routes throughout the district and will restore them wherever possible using the resources we have available.

We have a great opportunity this year to make this one of Katy ISD's best years; a year in which we will have a chance to chart the course for our district's and community's future. Have we gotten off to a rocky start? Yes we have. Does it have to set the tone for the remainder of the school year and our future? Absolutely not.

The way that we come together as a community and overcome this challenge will say a lot about us. I personally believe in the best about Katy and know that we will work together and do everything we can for the benefit of our children both inside and outside the classroom. I can assure you that we here in Katy ISD will continue to work tirelessly towards that goal.

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