17 bus routes being slashed from Hays CISD

Hays CISD bus operating on a route that will be cut since it's not deemed dangerous for students to walk anymore. (KXAN photo)
Hays CISD bus operating on a route that will be cut since it's not deemed dangerous for students to walk anymore. (KXAN photo)

KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — Sixty percent of students with Hays Consolidated Independent School District depend on a bus to get to school. Starting in January, some of those students will have to find a different way to school as the district plans to cut 17 bus routes.

The district says these routes were previously considered hazardous routes. The law says a hazardous condition exists where no walkway is provided and children must walk along or cross a freeway or expressway, an uncontrolled major traffic artery, an industrial or commercial area, or another comparable condition.

Over the years, the city of Kyle has added new sidewalks connecting schools to new subdivisions deeming them a safe route for students. However, some parents don’t agree.

“The road is very busy, I don’t’ think sixth graders to eighth graders should be walking alone on the road. The sidewalk doesn’t seem very big; it is close to the road,” said HCISD parent Ashley Seitz.

Seitz lives in the Plum Creek neighborhood and is referring to the sidewalk along Farm to Market 2770. In total, five subdivisions will be impacted: Silverado, Spring Branch, Plum Creek, The Trails and Prairie on the Creek.

“Children are at risk, even when I’m out there I’m at risk. People pass by me all the time, you increase the flow and I think it’s going to increase the danger and the risk to everybody,” said HCISD crossing guard Maria Serrano.

The state gives schools money to help operate bus routes for students who live more than two miles from campus, or if walking to school would be dangerous for students who live closer. The routes are re-evaluated for safety each year. If improvements like new sidewalks or traffic signals are added, routes can lose their hazardous status. When that happens, schools stop getting money from the state to help keep bus service in those areas.

Hays CISD says keeping bus service for the 17 routes losing hazardous status this year would cost the district $115,000 a year. The district tells us it would be difficult for the district to use local funds to keep the routes open.

“There’s only so much in the budget. As a community and as a school district you have to decide where you are going to put those resources. And the more you put in busing, the less you are going to have for the classroom, the supplies, the tools and the equipment for all of the educational opportunities that we offer the students,” said HCISD spokesperson Tim Savoy.  “We understand that it’s not easy to have a young kid that used to ride a bus be in the situation to where they would have to walk.”

The school district says it’s doing everything possible to keep students safe. Although routes will be eliminated, the district will be adding crossing guards to busy intersections and are open to any other suggestions from parents.

“Go on record, let your thoughts be known about this and maybe collectively as a community or as a state we can come up with a solution,” said Savoy.

The school district has created a page on its website designated to hazardous routes where p,arents can see a full list of subdivisions impacted and the suggested routes.

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