Reduced school bus stops have parents fuming

Officials: No service within half-mile of school

Published On: Aug 15 2012 06:07:56 PM CDT   Updated On: Aug 15 2012 06:21:32 PM CDT
KATY, Texas -

With just a few days left until most kids head back to school, some Katy parents are upset over a decrease in school bus service.

Parents in the Katy Independent School District received a postcard in the mail informing them of the district's decision to cut service to hundreds of students, officials said.

Katy ISD officials said the cuts are due to a lack of bus drivers.

"This is a decision we didn't want to make, but when  you just don't have the drivers to drive the buses, you can't provide the level of service," said Steve Standord, Katy ISD director of communications.

Starting this school year, if an elementary student lives within a half-mile radius from school, they will no longer have bus service.

Elizabeth Johnson is one of those parents who lives within the half-mile radius, and she's upset that her 4- and 7 year-old children will be forced to walk along a busy Westgreen Boulevard.

"This is the street that our children are going to be walking on. There's no sidewalks here," said Johnson.

Johnson added that she's not opposed to kids walking to school, but she does want the route they take to be safe.

In all, 52 routes will be eliminated from both elementary and secondary schools in the district, affecting 6,600 students. That's nearly 21 percent of the usual daily bus riders.

Stanford said even if they hire more drivers, that may not solve the problem.

"This is strictly a manpower issue. While we are continuing to look for drivers, we can't say that we would revert to where we were," Stanford said.

Officials with Katy ISD said in order to cover every route that it had last year, the district would need an additional 40 drivers. Officials said no drivers were laid off last year, but some left on their own.

Stanford said the issue isn't money, they just need more drivers. Anyone interested in applying can do so on Katy ISD's website.