FIX HOUSTON ISD TRANSPORTATION PLAN
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Create a Transportation Services plan that is both equitable and efficient. Each child deserves access to a quality education based on their ability to safely reach their bus stop by walking. Magnet students (and their parents) should not be penalized simply because they chose not to attend their neighborhood school.
I am an HISD parent. I live within HISD boundaries, but in a neighborhood where there is no school within safe walking distance of my home. The kids that attend the zoned schools typically ride an HISD bus. Also, given that my husband and I both work, it is not possible for either of us to be available to drive the kids to & from a magnet hub on a daily basis. Additionally, since we have 3 kids (one at each level - ES, MS, HS) attending HISD magnet schools, the drop off and pickup times and locations conflict with one another. Therefore, even if we are able to drive to and from the selected magnet hub before and after work, we have to either drive to multiple hubs and/ or wait at one for an extended period of time, given that the school start-end times are staggered such that the elementary child will get out of school first. What working parent thought this was a good idea? This is inconvenient and in most cases prohibitive.
Parents of magnet students have had to choose whether to rely on Uber/ Lyft/ METRO (which is not feasible for those parents of younger children), secure after-school care and/or transportation (for a fee that most can’t afford), or withdraw their kids from the magnet programs altogether (which affects district funding). To assume that the source of the issue that needs to be corrected is simply lengthy travel times is short sighted and demonstrates a failure to perform any root-cause analysis to determine the real issue and the best resolution.
So how do you resolve this issue while also ensuring that all students arrive to school safely and on-time? For starters, don’t fix what isn’t broken. There was already a GPS system in place that was working quite well. The Bus Tracking app gave parents the kind of information we needed, without going overboard and requiring additional funds for ID cards (that the kids will lose) and expensive new hardware and software be installed on the buses. This money would be much better spent offering competitive benefits packages for bus drivers, incorporating attendance incentives for service employees, and conducting thorough new driver training to help give new drivers the tools needed to avoid getting overwhelmed. These small changes will go a long way in correcting the ongoing problems in the transportation services department.
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