June 28, 2011
Facing deep budget cuts due to the state’s reduction in school funding, Spring ISD will reduce bus transportation for students to the two-mile state limit effective the first day of the new school year on Aug. 24, 2011. The decision, which will also impact school schedules and bus stops, is projected to save the district $1.5 million, which would equal approximately 30 teaching positions, in the 2011-12 school year. The state reimburses the district for providing transportation services to students who live two or more miles from the school they attend.
“Our district is one of the last in the Houston area to go to the two-mile limit. We wrestled long and hard with this decision and seriously considered input gathered from the community before coming to the conclusion that we could no longer afford to provide this extra service due to the extreme financial challenges facing our district,” said Dr. Ralph H. Draper, Spring ISD superintendent.
There will be two exceptions to the two-mile rule. First, transportation services will be provided to students who live within two miles of their assigned school if hazardous traffic conditions exist. Second, transportation will be provided to students receiving special services that require transportation to be provided by the district.
The following conditions are considered hazardous:
- No walkway is provided and students must walk along or cross a four-lane road or greater, excluding turn lanes, in which the posted speed limit is 40 mph or greater.
- If a walkway is provided and students must cross a four-lane or greater road, excluding turn lane, in which the posted speed limit is 40 mph or greater and there is no traffic control device along the route to allow safe crossing for pedestrians.
- Crossing active railroad tracks.
- No students will cross Interstate 45, FM 1960 or Kuykendahl.
A walkway is not limited to a paved sidewalk. It can be the shoulder of a road, a grass or dirt strip adjacent to the roadway or a lawn adjacent to a neighborhood street. Traffic control signals include stop signs and any controlled pedestrian crossing, including but not limited to school zones, signaled crosswalks, crossing assistance, stop signs and traffic lights.
School schedules will change with the new transportation program to maximize efficiency. Elementary schools will be in session from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and middle schools from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. High schools will be in session from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. except for Thursdays when the starting time will be 9:30 a.m. to allow for Extended Professional Learning Time. The new schedule will extend the regular day at high schools by 35 minutes and at middle schools by 15 minutes.
“Parents expressed concern about an earlier suggestion that elementary schools start later in the day. Based on input from the community, we chose the earlier start time for elementary students because it was more compatible with parents’ work schedules,” Draper said.
Authorized bus stops will be designated districtwide at the beginning of the school year and eligible passengers may only load and unload at the authorized stops. Eligible elementary students may walk up to ¼ mile and eligible middle and high school students may walk up to ½ mile to their designated bus stop.
An online survey was featured prominently on the Spring ISD website for more than a month and the district’s automated messaging system was used to notify parents by phone and email that the district was seeking their input.
“We appreciate the input we received from parents and the community regarding this recommendation. Comments and suggestions gathered from the survey were shared with the Board of Trustees, seriously considered during the decision-making process and helped us in determining implementation of the final program,” said Renee Coleman, associate superintendent for human resources and transportation.
For details regarding hazardous traffic conditions for each school, visit the district's Hazardous Traffic Conditions and Transportation Maps web page.