Big changes for Cy-Fair

August 4, 2009 3:46:54 PM PDT
This school year will be different for thousands of students in the Cy-Fair Independent School District. Some will no longer get bus rides to school while others will have to find a new way to get home in the evenings. The changes come after homeowners in the school district protested and successfully fought plans to do away with the homestead exemption. What do parents think about the changes now?

It's all part of some tough decisions for the school districts not because they want to but because they are being forced to do so.

Parent Loretta Brecht doesn't think it's fair. She's now scrambling to figure out how to get her 12-year-old daughter Stephanie to and from school.

"Both my kids aren't going to have a bus. We live within the two mile radius," said Brecht.

Starting this year, Cy-Fair ISD will no longer provide transportation to and from school for students who live within two miles of their school. This is one result of a vote a few weeks ago by the Cy-Fair ISD School Board to keep the district's 20 percent homestead exemption. An estimated loss of $45 million means several forced budget cuts. As a result, Cy-Fair's budget must be cut by $14.2 million. Officials say there also will be deep staff cuts and cuts in services and programs.

"So one of those areas is transportation inside the two mile limit and as you know that's defined by the state as not being funded. So we are not going to bus students who are not funded by the state," said Kelli Durham of Cy-Fair ISD.

The bus route savings for the school district will be about $3 million. In addition, the district will also not fill positions as they become available and teachers will no longer be compensated for training days.

Parents we talked to understand the cuts, but think cutting into kids' transportation is going too far.

"I used to walk to school. But why now? Parents have to work and need someone to watch their kids so, that means extra money will have to come out of the parents' pockets to get their kids to school," said parent Elaine Fuller.

These cuts are not being made just this year, but within the last three years. During that time, the district has had to cut over $50 million.

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