A new busing policy in the Frisco Independent School District will leave some West Frisco neighborhoods without free bus service less than two weeks before the school year starts.
On Monday, the board of trustees approved a plan that will affect families with students at Pioneer Heritage and Stafford middle schools.
According to the district, new access roads have become available that make some households ineligible for free bus service.
A student eligible for free busing lives more than two miles from the front entrance to school.
Some neighbors, like Ravindra Kadu, who lives in the Stonewater Crossing neighborhood, said he feels his area should be grandfathered.
Specifically, he said, because free busing has been available in years past, that should continue.
“The bus is not purely a means of transportation,” he said. “It’s a way my kid gets to school safely.”
Kadu and others are concerned about the need to cross Farm-to-Market Road 423, a six-lane FM highway with incomplete sidewalks, to reach Pioneer Heritage Middle School.
Bill Brill, another concerned parent who has led neighborhood opposition to the district’s plan, told NBC 5 by email he feels FISD should follow the lead of other districts and provide a hazard exclusion to ensure student safety.
Brill added that after Frisco ISD voters recently approved a $775 million bond package. He writes, “It is hard to understand how FISD can now justify cutting transportation services to an area that is clearly hazardous for children to walk,” questioning big ticket expenditures by the district, while, he said, in his opinion this safety issue is being overlooked.
In public session on Monday, district staff emphasized no one is forcing children to cross a busy road, adding that while the children may walk, parents can also carpool, drive individually or pay $150 per semester ($125 per additional sibling) to continue bus service.
District spokeswoman Shana Wortham told NBC 5 by email on Wednesday that “we believe that the safe transport of students to and from school is a shared responsibility of parents and the school district.”
She added, “We wish we could assist every family with their transportation needs, but it is not feasible or sustainable for the long-term.”
Wortham notes that in the 2012-13 state transportation report, the state estimated FISD’s per mile cost for busing at $5.31. The state reimbursement is $1.25 per mile.
According to Wortham, the state has not increased the $1.25 per mile reimbursement to districts in more than 20 years.