Parents upset over Katy ISD bus route changes

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- Parents are upset because bus service for their junior high and high school students has been canceled for their Parkway Oaks neighborhood for the next school year.

Lance Ferguson walked the path he said his daughter will have to take twice a day to get to and from Cinco Ranch Junior High School next year.

"Would you want your 11-year-old daughter walking through here? I don't," Ferguson said.

The path stretches across more than a mile of walking from his home to Cinco Ranch Junior High, but Katy ISD indicates it is within a mile from the school's radius.

It had bus service in the past because there were canals without crossings that prevented students from walking to school.

Ferguson found out from neighbors that students in his Parkway Oaks neighborhood won't have bus service, because their walk to to school is now deemed safe due to three new footbridges.

"We know their concerns. One year, they have transportation and the next they don't," Maria DiPetta a spokeswoman for the district said.

"I just want bus service to continue next year the way it has this year," Ferguson said.

DiPetta said elementary students get bus service if they live more than a half a mile from school.

Secondary students have to live more than a mile from school to get bus service. That is, unless there is a hazard, like construction or a waterway with no way to cross. That was the case for the Parkway Oaks neighborhood until the footbridges were installed

Ferguson and many of his neighbors believe the canal is still a hazard. They said a heavy rain can fill it quickly. He also said there are snakes not far from the walking path.

Dipetta said it's the state that decides what constitutes a hazard for students' paths to school-- not the district.

"Those are bridge are located close to a canal, but they are not susceptible to flooding because they are above flood level. Also, a lot of the controlled intersections they were there last year are now controlled with lights," she said.

Ferguson said another hazard is the four lanes of Falcon Landing that children will have to cross. He said people speed often, so he'll keep fighting for bus service to continue.

"This neighborhood is different. There's no easy way to school," said Ferguson.

DiPetta said the district takes parents' concerns seriously. She said if they believe there is a hazard along their child's walk to school, they can contact the district and request the route be reviewed.

"Just like the parents, student safety is our priority," DiPetta said.

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