By Michael Sudhalter
“Have you ever accompanied a class field trip?” Gentry wrote on an FBISD Concerns Facebook page. “Those buses always get lost, and the kids miss out on a big chunk of their field trip. One day a year they get to go somewhere and they miss half of it because buses are lost (or are running late).”
Transportation items account for about 3 percent ($15.9 million) of the proposed $484 million bond that will go before voters on Nov. 4.
The lion’s share of those expenses are $15 million to replace aging buses.
According to FBISD Chief Operating Officer Max Cleaver, the district will have to replace 150 buses within five years and 300 buses within 10 years. The lifespan goal of a district bus is 15-16 years, said Cleaver.
“FBISD has become a member of the Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance (NGVA),” Cleaver said. “As part of the membership, we are in the process of using a software called “Fleet Analytix” to analyze both the bus fleet and service vehicle fleet to determine which vehicles might be good candidates for conversion to alternative fuel.”
While the district replenishing its buses generates little controversy, there was a great deal of criticism on the FBISD Concerns page regarding the $900,000 the district would spend on adding GPS and bus cameras, specifically about the GPS portion of it.
“I’d rather the money be spent on retrofitting existing buses with seat belts and Air Conditioning and purchasing new buses as needed,” Leyla Preissinger wrote. “Safety should be paramount and the comfort of our kiddos should take priority over GPS systems.”
Cleaver said the GPS systems and cameras will make FBISD’s Transportation Department more efficient.
“GPS will assist with making routes more efficient, and it will assist with answering concerns about late and early buses, as well as speeding vehicles,” Cleaver said. “Likewise, the cameras enhance student and driver safety. When used together, we have a better understanding where to start looking for misrouted students.”
Cleaver also mentioned that the economic boom, specifically the growth in the Energy and Construction sectors, have created a driver shortage in the district.