Spring ISD began the new school year just Wednesday, so there were some opening day issues. There is less state money for schools, and that reality is now trickling down to school buses.
There were cars as far as the eye can see, waiting for school to end and parents waiting for the second day in a row. We found the long line at Smith Elementary School and we're told there are equally long waits at other Spring ISD schools because of a change in bus policy. To save $1.5 million, the district adopted the state standard that students who live within two miles of their school are not eligible to ride the bus. As a result, more kids are being driven to and from school by family, or walking to and from campus.
"They should have gave the parents a choice," suggested parent Lillian Lewis. "You can pay for busing or whatever, but there was no choice."
Spring ISD spokesperson Karen Garrison issued a statement: "The district appreciates the patience and cooperation that parents have shown during this process. The challenges of implementing this change vary from campus to campus and options are being considered, where needed to help lessen traffic congestion in car rider lines as parents drop off and pick up their students."
For some, Thursday was an improvement over Wednesday, but not back to the system before state budget cuts.
Parent Ritchie Randel asked, "Why not cut the sports programs? Why not cut the sports programs in the school districts? Trim a little money there."
A Spring spokesperson says the $1.5 million savings from bus costs translates into 30 teachers' salaries.
There were also some parents in Fort Bend ISD upset over late buses. We contacted the district and were told that it did inform parents of about 1,300 students that they would no longer have bus service. It's the same situation as in Spring.
As per state law, the district is not reimbursed by the state for transportation costs for students who live within a two mile radius of their campus, unless there is a hazardous route designation. Fort Bend says it found no such hazardous conditions.
Friendswood ISD has also changed part of its bus service this year. All students are provided transportation, even if they live within two miles except for high school students who live close to their campus. The district tells us closeness is determined by proximity to major cross streets.