In the wake of a recent incident involving one of its buses swept down Brushy Creek at a low water crossing, the Leander ISD board of trustees is collaborating with the public on new methods to keep kids safe from hazardous conditions.
LISD buses do not pick up and drop off students who live within 2 miles of their LISD school unless the board of trustees states that the route is too dangerous, and recommendations are made to the board via a rating scale that determines the need to provide bus service from an area to a school when it is judged not safe for the student to walk to school. Points are tallied according to factors that affect a child’s route to school including distance, traffic density and controls in the area, major intersections and speed limits.
According to district documents, complications such as low-water crossings earn a route points, and those routes that score 575 or more points are determined to be dangerous enough to receive bus service.
A hazardous route committee met last month to go over the current scoring criteria with the goal of improving the system and Shaun Cranston represented the committee at the Oct. 25 LISD board meeting to present proposed changes. Cranston said that the current system is subject to change, and that each case is treated differently. With the committee’s proposed new evaluation process, a route is either deemed dangerous or it is not.
Trustee Jim MacKay said he approved of the system.
“I think this is far and away just such an improvement over what we had last year,” said MacKay.
The current system and new draft system differ by definitions of different types of roadways and the removal of distance as a scoring factor. In both, the totals are weighted to result in higher points for elementary students and lower points for high school students on the same route.
The Oct. 16 incident in which a Stiles Middle school student and a Leander bus driver were rescued after the driver attempted to drive through a low-water crossing in the morning on County Road 177 focused new attention on the issue.
Leander police arrested the bus driver, 57-year-old Nathan Scott Deyoung, and he is no longer employed by the school district.
Readers are able to provide public comments to the evaluation draft at www.leanderisd.org/hazardousroutes.