BRYAN, TX — Some recent changes have been made to Bryan ISD's bus maps, affecting which children will be eligible to ride the bus to school.
Any Bryan ISD parent who lives close to their child’s school is likely familiar with the term ‘walk zones.’ Children who live within two miles of their school are not eligible for a bus route, unless their school is adjacent to a highway or major construction site. Areas like this are often deemed 'hazardous zones' by the district.
District representatives have said that busing all local children to school would cost millions in extra funding each year. Thus, walk zones exist to keep buses from over crowding. It’s been nearly four years since Bryan ISD last updated walk zones and hazardous zones on its bus maps, to accommodate changes in community structure.
“As new developments are built, we evaluate these neighborhoods for things like lighting changes," said Warren Lanphie, Bryan ISD transportation director. "We evaluate these things and make adjustments to what are [considered] current hazardous zones. If neighborhoods are safer, we can modify is what considered hazardous and make it not hazardous.”
Towards the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, the district decided to consider a specific neighborhood near Navarro Elementary School a hazardous zone. Though the homes, positioned off State Highway 6, and Laura Lane, are within two miles of the school, students are now exempt from the 'walk zone' rule, able to ride the bus from this specific row of duplexes.
“We’d like to see these kids bused to campus," Lanphie said." They had to walk on the feeder road.”
Tameka Jones, mother of two school aged children, has sent her youngest daughter to Kemp-Carver Elementary across town. But, Jones' young cousins and other child family members who live next door were previously attending Navarro under the ‘walk zone.'
They'd been driven to school by their parents each day, as the family had feared potential hazards from walking. Jones said she's been anxious on behalf of the children on her street who do trek to school along the highway access road.
“I like to watch my kids get off the bus here in front of me," Jones said, noting her front porch and lawn chair. "And I like to watch other people’s kids go back and forth, because there’s too much stuff going on in the world, and I don’t really trust people.”
One new bus map change coming to the district this fall will regard Jane Long Intermediate School. Initially, the neighborhood between the school and Leonard Road was considered a hazardous zone, due to its proximity to construction work.
However, since new, lit neighborhood streets are now in place, the district will require students in this area to walk to school once more. Lanphie said that Jane Long Intermediate School families whose routes are set to change, will be contacted by mail in the near future.