District chops some school bus routes

August 19, 2008 4:37:49 PM PDT
Don't be caught off guard on the first day of school -- high gas prices have steered a local school district into eliminating several bus routes, and some parents are not happy about the change. The Aldine Independent School District decided to cut back on bus routes back in the spring, as gas prices shot up and out of control. But some parents are still stuck trying to find other arrangements to get their kids to school.

She's only nine but Priscilla Estrada is feeling the pinch from rising gas prices.

"It's real, real bad," she said.

A student at Stephens Elementary School in northeast Harris County, Priscilla loves riding the bus. Come Monday, she will have to find another way to get to school. Aldine ISD is eliminating her bus route to save money on fuel. The district sent letters home to parents.

Priscilla's mother Gloria Vazquez said, "Are they going to cut our taxes, too? Because we're paying school taxes -- it's not fair, we're paying for that."

Like so many parents, Vazquez would drive her daughter to school on her way to work and rely on the school bus to take their children home in the afternoon.

"I mean, these are little kids," said concerned aunt Elizabeth Villareal. "I think it's very dangerous for them to just walk to school."

As upset as these parents are, the district insists it's acting within its legal right to drop these routes by enforcing the two mile rule. The state's policy says school districts in Texas are not required to provide transportation to students who live within two miles of their home campus.

A district spokesman told Eyewitness News, "To ensure the safety of the students who will walk to school, a trained crossing guard will be in place at campuses. The district will continue to have police officers monitor traffic on a daily basis."

That's little consolation to this mother.

"I would understand if it was only a few kids riding the bus, but it was packed," Vazquez said. "The bus was packed when it would pass by in the morning."

The discontinued bus routes are just one effort being made to help curb rising costs.

** Check the full list of addresses that have been eliminated from the Aldine ISD school bus routes for the 2008-09 school year **

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