District creates committee to drive toward transportation solutions

A group of Katy ISD officials, staff members and concerned parents have been meeting since January in an effort to develop solutions to the district's transportation challenges.



"The Transportation Committee was formed to gain input from various stakeholders to consider various options for a transportation model," Katy ISD spokeswoman Denisse Cantu said.



The 20-member committee includes members from multiple school campuses and departments as well as parents, she said.



"So far the committee has met twice, and the main topics of discussion involve consideration of a multi-bell schedule, various walking distances, and the hiring and retention of drivers."



In recent months, parents have addressed the board of trustees in their public comments period to speak out in favor of redesigning the guidelines set out by the board for the 2012-13 school year. By those parameters, bus service is only available to elementary students who live outside a half-mile radius of their campus, and high school students who live outside of a one-mile radius.



KISD's Assistant Superintendant for Support Services Mike Robinson presented an update on the transportation situation at the board's March 17 work-study session.



In it he described six possible scenarios that the district could employ that would modify bus service either by a student's proximity to campus or by staggering the bell system at across various parts of the district.



One key factor that parents have brought up in public comments, in regard to the proximity measurement, is whether the measurement from campus is made by drawing a circle on a map or through a turn-by-turn calculation.



According to discussions at the March 17 meeting and prior, all of the calculations are being made against the backdrop of a widespread shortage of qualified bus drivers.



Because of the complexity of the issue, the district has initiated a survey in addition to the 20-person committee.



"It was decided that additional input from the community was necessary through a survey," Cantu said. "Once that is completed, the committee will reconvene in an attempt to consider all input and develop a model that we think is the least disruptive and sustainable."



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