School districts across the state of Texas have been plagued with a bus driver shortage, including Gonzales ISD.
GISD Director of Operations Gene Kridler addressed the GISD School Board with a transportation report in the Monday, May 8 meeting.
“For the past several years, GISD as well as most schools around the state have suffered from lack of bus driver applicants. In response to this shortage, GISD has increased our pay scale, recruitment efforts by social media postings and an advertisement banner on our property at Gonzales High School,” Kridler said.
In response to the shortage, Kridler said the transportation department is adding “no ride zones” around each school.
A map was shown to the board of where the zones surrounding each school are located and dots indicated bus pick up and drop off points.
Students within the zone will have to walk to their respective campus.
“The state requires transportation services be provided for students living more than two miles from their campus. While we have operated routes within those distances for many years, we no longer have the capacity to continue in that manner,” Krildler said.
The district estimates 30 to 40 students will be impacted, and Kridler said they’ll be reaching out to parents to inform them of the changes and “let the community know where the nearest route will be after implementation.”
“This change does have its drawbacks and also ensures that we're able to provide reliable transportation to our students who live in other areas of the district not closest to our campuses,” Kridler added.
Kridler hopes this plan will help with the current bus driver shortage at GISD.
“The only reason this current plan would change is if we lose any other drivers to retirement or job change or we're able to recruit and hire multiple drivers,” Kridler added.
District 4 Trustee Josie Smith-Wright brought up concerns about the students walking to get to the zones they need to be.
“I'm kind of nervous when you start saying kids are going to walk, especially if it rains. They're not gonna walk to school in the rain,” Smith-Wright said.
Kridler said to Smith-Wright that the district could always re-evaluate the data whenever they get to that point.
“We're wanting to provide reliable transportation to all of our kids that we can right now. We're still doing that for them. There were many districts around the state that, at the beginning of the year, they had multiple routes open, that parents were calling, wanting to know why their kid wasn't getting things done, and we were able to provide for our kids. So I was very pleased with that,” Kridler said.
Krildler hopes that bus transportation doesn’t stop altogether due to the shortage of drivers.
“We may get to that point. I hope we won't. I hope that we can recruit and retain some drivers around that want to come be a part of our team. But right now, this is where we are.”
The board approved the following agenda items:
--approved revisions to the 2022-23 district compensation plan.
--approved the 2023-24 compensation plan with additions and substitute rates.
--approved to appoint Crystal Cedillo, Gonzales County Tax Assessor-Collector,as the Individual to Calculate and Prepare the2023 No-New-Revenue and Voter-Approval Tax Rates for Gonzales ISD.
--approved Representatives for Lone Star Investment Pool.
--approved the Gonzales ISD TEKS Certification Form.
--approved the Fuel, Lubricant, & Oil Contract.
--approved the fiscal year 2023-24 Truancy Prevention and Intervention Program.