KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
December 17, 2019
By Jennifer Miko
At last night's Katy ISD School Board meeting, the Board of Trustees approved two important transportation initiatives aimed at providing safe, reliable transportation to the District – more surveillance cameras on the buses and recruiting more bus drivers.
On Monday, December 16, the Katy ISD Board of Trustees approved a Transportation Camera Systems Upgrade, made possible by Katy ISD’s 2017 Bond.
Cameras to Monitor Bus Activity
The plan will enhance the camera systems on every District bus to include eight cameras. The cameras will be positioned in the front, inside, and back of the buses.
“The camera system upgrade will provide the latest in technology and safety measures available in school bus transportation,” says Assistant Superintendent of Operations, Ted Vierling.
Installation of the cameras will begin over the District’s winter break. All 330 regular buses and 241 special education buses are projected to be outfitted by the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
“The system is capable of supplying video coverage of every seat positioned in the school bus, while also monitoring the activity in nearly every corner of the vehicle and bus stop locations,” says Vierling.
Enhancing the Bus Drivers' Pool
Vierling’s second proposition included a plan to help alleviate the bus driver shortage across the District. The Katy ISD Board of Trustees voted to approve a contract for the 2020-2021 school year to provide funds to hire GoldStar Transit, a third-party transportation provider, to supplement districtwide driver personnel needs.
Katy ISD will also enter into an agreement with GoldStar Transit to provide additional drivers as the District continues to struggle with personnel recruitment amid the state- and nation-wide bus driver shortage. The new agreement with GoldStar Transit, a Texas based transportation company, will provide at least 40 bus routes. This number remains tentative until new school and enrollment routes are confirmed in the summer of 2020.
GoldStar Transit currently provides services to a number of school districts, including Fort Bend ISD, Bastrop ISD, Waco ISD, and Navasota ISD. The company’s drivers will be trained alongside Katy ISD bus drivers, while its buses will display Katy ISD signage and have equipment on par with that of standard District buses.
District Still Seeking Drivers
District officials still maintain that recruiting and retaining in-house drivers remains its priority now and into the future.
“The best option for us has always been, and will continue to be, to recruit and train our own drivers,” said Vierling. “The GoldStar Transit agreement is to help address the shortage until the point wherein we see more candidates applying for Katy ISD bus driving positions, and we can sustain a constant flow of qualified individuals coming through our doors.”
Katy ISD has put a great deal of effort into increasing its bus driver pool by conducting annual recruitment fairs and offering recruitment bonuses. In an effort to maintain drivers, the District provides childcare services for $2.00 a day, and has raised drivers’ wages to $17.17/hour.
“I firmly believe that upgrading our technology and camera system, along with the contracted agreement of a professional transportation company, will enhance our transportation services to be agile and equipped to meet District goals and growth,” says Vierling.