By Eddie Villa
More families will have access to transportation services in the 2021-22 school year, the Superintendent said Monday, April 26.
“At Operation Reconnect, we learned that one of the reasons many students are leaving to attend a charter school was because of a lack of transportation, “ Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said.
To remedy that, the district would invest its own money to add additional routes at select campuses to reach more students living within two miles of a school.
This and other topics such as transfers and registration were discussed as part of the Conversations with the District series on Monday, April 26, with this meeting serving Spanish-speaking members of the community.
Most Texas school districts do not provide bus route service to students who live within two miles of their school because the state does not fund it.
“It will create a path to recover some students,” Elizalde said. “It will cost us money, but it is better and will allow us to reconnect with students so they have an excellent education in Austin ISD.”
“Expanded transportation options] will create a path to recover some students,” - Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde.
In the 2021-22 school year, new bus routes will begin rolling out at select schools to service families living within schools’ two-mile radius. School principals will have conversations with parents about this new option.
Expanded bus routes include:
- Students whose home campus are these schools and they live 0.4 miles or more: Andrews, Blackshear, Campbell, Dawson, Harris, Jordan, Oak Springs, Metz/Sanchez, Pecan Springs, Zavala, Norman-Sims, Odom, Winn, and Widen elementaries.
- Students whose home campus are these and they live 1 mile or more: Burnet, Dobie, Garcia YMLA, Martin, Sadler Means YWLA, Webb, Crockett, Eastside Memorial, Northeast, and Travis.
Districtwide transportation will be available for the Winn Elementary Montessori and Sadler Means YWLA.
Elizalde said families who may have left the district because of transportation should ask their neighborhood AISD school principal for more information about the additional bus routes.
Families do not need to live inside district boundaries to learn in Austin ISD. However, when it comes to guaranteeing space in a certain school, it depends on various factors, Elizalde said in response to a question about out-of-district transfers.
“It depends on what grade, it depends on what school, it depends on where they live, and whether they can provide transportation themselves,” she said.
Magnet schools that require an application process to enroll, like Lively, Kealing and Lamar middle schools or LASA and McCallum high schools, do not allow for out-of-district transfers.
The district welcomes students from outside its boundaries to any program with available space, which is a majority of campuses.
The superintendent also said if families have questions regarding transfers, they can contact their school principal or call the district’s central office for more information.
Along with discussions about enrollment and transfers, district leaders were asked about the type of documents accepted for the registration of a student to Austin ISD.
Questions expressed the frustration of why the district was unable to accept phone or insurance bills as a verification document in the registration process.
"I will meet with the leadership team and look for answers about finding alternative verification documents where we can be flexible," - Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde.
Austin ISD requires a water or electricity utility bill as verification, which families say some do not have under their name.
Superintendent Elizalde said that several documents can be used as verification.
“There are required documents that are not flexible because they come from the state,” she said. “But others are flexible, and we may find substitutions for those documents. I will meet with the leadership team and look for answers about finding alternative verification documents where we can be flexible.”
Austin ISD is also in the process of creating an enrollment office that will be dedicated to identifying complications in the registration process and making it easier for families.