Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Texas school district required to provide transportation to all students?
No, there is no law requiring districts to provide transportation to students in general education. A district is only required to provide transportation to certain special-program students. A special-program student is a student with a disability who requires specialized transportation to access the student’s academic program and other related services [Texas Education Code 29.001.005, 48.151(b)(2)]. For a student receiving special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), an ARD committee can require specialized transportation as a required related service in a student’s IEP if the student would otherwise be unable to attend school and benefit from special education. Likewise, for a student eligible under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, a 504 committee can require transportation in the students’ Section 504 accommodation plan based on a similar determination (34 C.F.R. 104.33, 300.101).
What is the District’s eligibility requirement for students to receive transportation services?
The requirements for transportation eligibility was addressed in the previous FAQ and is determined by a student’s participation in identified special programs. For all other general education students, the District implemented a 2 mile boundary based on the distance from the curb at the front of the school to the curb in front of the student’s home. The 2 mile boundary can vary slightly based on the closest paved street, school bus accessible streets, intersections, and the layout of how neighborhoods are split. Accordingly, in some cases, the 2 miles may be different from what a parent calculates. In addition, the availability of bus drivers is part of this process. We cannot add new routes or accommodate more students than we have bus drivers.
Is the 2 mile boundary a hard or flexible line?
As shared above, the 2 mile boundary can vary slightly based on the closest paved street, school bus accessible streets, intersections, and the layout of how neighborhoods are split. We do have some students living outside the 2 miles that are not served at this time and there are some families inside the 2 mile boundary that are being served due to factors such as proximity to routes and safety. As we are able to hire more drivers, we will work to expand services.
How was the 2 mile boundary and school bus routes determined?
In 2022, our Transportation Department and administration reviewed and determined the two-mile boundary studying maps as provided by our Transportation Routing software program and physically driving routes as needed. Factors such as intersections, school bus accessible streets, how neighborhoods are divided, and overall student ride time are also taken into consideration when determining actual routes.
Does the District receive funding to provide transportation to all students within the 2 mile boundary?
No. State funding is only provided to the District for students who reside outside the two-mile boundary. While funding for areas determined as “hazardous” to walk to school is available, the District must also consider the availability of staff to add additional routes. At this time, staffing does not permit adding any additional routes.
Does the District have enough buses to accommodate the whole district?
Yes. The District has enough buses and purchases new buses on an established replacement cycle to replace aging buses and to accommodate growth in student enrollment. Buses are inspected on an annual basis as part of this process and to ensure they are operating well.
Why does it appear that some buses are not full and at capacity?
We have almost 5,000 students registered for transportation on our regular education routes. During the first few days of school, it is common for parents to drop off and/or pick up students, enjoying the first days of school, thus buses are not at full ridership. Ridership typically starts evening out during the second week of school. If changes are made to routes too quickly before actual ridership is established, we can inadvertently end up with over capacity issues which would result in the need to reroute once again.
How many students can a bus hold and why are there a couple of buses that seem over capacity?
School buses are equipped to hold 77 students, with three seat belts per seat. While our elementary students fit comfortably with this arrangement, that does not apply to middle and high school students. During the first several weeks, we had a very high ridership which caused a couple of buses to be crowded. Accordingly, we have made some changes to ensure that students can sit comfortably. As noted earlier, ridership typically starts evening out during the second and third week of school, and we appreciate your understanding as we make adjustments accordingly.
Will the District offer transportation services within the two mile boundary in the future?
The District will continue to monitor traffic conditions and the availability of school bus drivers as we consider adding additional routes. Safety conditions will be a primary factor in determining additional routes as staffing allows.
What has the District done to recruit and retain school bus drivers?
Our school board approved increasing driver pay from a starting pay of $20.40 in 2020-2021 to a starting pay of $25.38 for the 2023-2024 school year. We have explored split shift routes, sought business partnership opportunities, hosted a district-wide job fair, hosted a Drive-a-Bus event, advertised and posted through multiple media platforms, contacted local colleges, and explored contracting with companies to provide additional drivers. If you know anyone interested in applying to be a bus driver, they can apply here.
What is the process for a school bus driver trainee to obtain a school bus driver’s license?
Once we interview and recommend an applicant for hire as a trainee, it takes approximately two weeks to get hired. While our HR department works quickly to process and onboard all new employees, it can take a week or two to receive their fingerprint and background clearance. Once approved, it takes 5-6 weeks to get a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) with Passenger and School bus (P&S) endorsements. During this time, our trainee is studying and taking 5 written tests at a scheduled appointment with the Department of Public Safety. Then they train for at least 14 days behind the wheel before taking another scheduled driving test, while also taking an online course. Then, by law, they take a 20 hour course to become certified in Texas. They also have to pass a Department of Transportation physical along with a drug and alcohol test. With these requirements and demands of the position, finding school bus drivers has become more difficult nationwide.
What is the process and timeline to become a school bus driver?
The first step is to apply for the job. After an interview and recommendation, you will receive an appointment for fingerprinting/background check. This usually takes 24-48 hours before our HR department receives the results. Once you are cleared, you will schedule an orientation with the district's HR department. After orientation, you may begin studying for the 5 written tests you are required to pass in order to get a Commercial Learner's Permit (CPL). With a CLP you are able to start the 14 days of behind-the-wheel training on a bus. You are required to take a drug and alcohol test with a DOT physical before driving a district vehicle. We schedule a driving test with DPS, but before you can take the driving test, you have to complete an online course. After you get your CDL with a P&S endorsement, by law you will take a 20 hour course to become a certified school bus driver in the state of Texas. You may now drive a route with a trainer for two days to learn the route before taking it over.