El Campo ISD unanimously voted on Wednesday night to add bus stops serving in-town students for the first time in more than 10 years.
The stops were approved after months of planning by Transportation Director Mark Freeman and a direct survey to ECISD parents. The busing services have already started and currently serves and average of 50 additional students a day, but more parents are expected to request to participate in the future.
“We started Monday and have about 50 kids each day ride,” Freeman said. It’s just like everything new, there have been some bumps, confusion and hiccups, but overall everything is going as planned.”
The stops added for in-town students are:
•1303 Delta Street
•401 Ricebird Lane
•1185 Olivia Street
ECISD also added stops at El Campo High School, El Campo Middle School, Northside Elementary and Hutchins Elementary.
These stops were chosen based on a survey sent out to more than 1,300 district parents with only 68 parents responding and agreeing to participate. Myatt Elementary is not currently included in the stops based on survey results.
Students can now travel from school to school if, for example, their home is closer to a certain stop.
“We expected this, but now that we have got it rolling, we have received about 25 calls from parents interested in participating,” Freeman said. “Everything we did was based on survey responses, so we will have to see in a couple of weeks where we have room to add students and we may not be able to add anyone until late November or later depending on interest and bus drivers.”
Parents have shown signs that they are willing to participate if more seats become available.
I would consider using the program if there is space,” ECISD parent Alondra Cantu said. “Parents work before seven, and it would help out to have buses for us if we don’t have anyone to take our kids to school.”
Although almost 70 students have signed up for the new busing program, only 50 have participated each day last week. The transportation department will have to evaluate participation before they can add more students.
“We have been telling people to call back soon, but there is a process we have to go through,” Freeman said. “Coordinating everything, figuring out actual participation takes time. So, it may take a little bit longer, but we expect to know within a month exactly how many students we can add with our current bus fleet.”
The transportation department hired a new driver this week but are still short at least one driver, Freeman said.
The current fleet includes 17 bus drivers.
“I have been on this board a long time, and we have been through this issue so many times over the years,” President James Russell said. “We could never get it done, but Mark came in and had an idea, a plan and he figured out a way to do it.”
Despite the lack of participation in the survey, some parents believe that adding bus stops will not just help their family but also help the community itself.
“Having children at multiple campuses creates unnecessary struggles for families. Buses would alleviate so much unnecessary traffic and that issues, and potentially reduce the number of accidents caused by cramming all of that traffic into our small areas,” ECISD parent Renae Pruett said. “Buses would also create the need for more drivers, which would, in turn, create more jobs. It’s a win all around.”