Keller ISD’s Pay-To-Ride Bus Program Begins

KELLER (CBSDFW.COM) – Monday is the first day back to school for most students across North Texas, and the first day that many school districts are having to deal with less money. Budget cuts have led to a new bus system in the Keller Independent School District, where parents must now pay a hefty fee for their kids to ride a school bus.

Parents pay $185 each semester for a student to ride the bus, and another $135 for each additional student. The fees come instead of an increase in property taxes.

The pay-to-ride program has not been popular with Keller parents. Only 2,300 kids are on the bus list this year – less than half of the those who were on the list last year.

Terry Hartzeg dropped off his 6-year-old son at Keller-Harvel Elementary School on Monday morning, but the boy will have to ride the bus home from school. “With three kids and one coming in a few days, the bus is a necessity,” Hartzeg said. He will still have to pay the full fee even though their child is only riding the bus one-way each day. “Thought we paid enough in taxes, but apparently not enough to keep the buses running.”

Hartzeg is hoping that the bus fee will be gone by the time his other children reach school age. “Hopefully things will get back in order,” he said, “and this was just a temporary thing.”

“I do know that it’s affecting parents, because I teach in the district,” said father Jay Asp. “I hear all the fallout from what’s happening.”

Even though her children never used the district’s bus service, mother Jenn Gee said that she would have paid a little more in property taxes to help other parents from paying a lot more in fees. “The raise in property taxes wasn’t that much,” Gee said. “I would have paid it.”

While some parents said that the new bus program is their only choice, others have found alternatives to the fee. Private transportation companies in Tarrant County have doubled their business. Kimberly Green is now a client with Smiley Transportation. “There was no way I was going to let my child walk or ride a bike across 1709, that’s a highway,” said the Keller mom.

“We treat and protect these kids as if they were our own,” explained Rushelle Wetzel with Smiley Transportation. “These parents know that and feel that.” (Click here to read more about these ‘kid taxi’ services.)

Other parents have decided to just fight the traffic around schools and drop their children off each day.

Traffic around Keller area schools was increased on Monday morning, but that is expected with the first day of classes. “I think this is more of a first day phenomenon,” said Asp. “But if it continues, it is certainly going to be a lot worse.” Most parents are expecting to see a regular increase in traffic, but said that it beats paying a fee. Keller school officials also expect a traffic increase, and have arranged for additional staff to be outside of schools each day to help monitor the situation.

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  • SDFin

    Great idea ! Those who’ve never had kids in the district won’t have to pay higher taxes for those who do & it’s creating a niche for bus service to earn some money. It’d be great for those w/ electric powered SUVs, etc.

  • Patriotic Girl

    Cut school expenses by “outing illegals”, and by cuting free lunches to immigrants/illegals.

    • Kevin

      That cost is so insignificant in Keller as to be irrelevant.

    • Krissy Burke

      Exactly!!!! Our kids miss out because illegals get it.

  • Jovina

    In Garland, the school bus comes to the door and picks them up. Why? They won’t answer my e-mails that I have sent them for 4 years.

  • John

    Sounds like someone at KISD has too much time on their hands to come up with these lame ideas. I don’t live in the area, but this would keep me away if I was contemplating a move. Maybe they should clean house, sounds like a bunch of democrats are minding the nut house

    • Kevin

      Which lame idea? Busing? Education?

      It was the TEA partiers who voted down the money to save buses.

  • RA

    Is KISD doing this to punish the voters for not passing the tax-raise to cover the budget short falls? Not only is the bus service a problem, but the roads as well. The traffic was awful this morning!

    • Kevin

      This was one of the things that was going to be cut if the increase was voted down.

      And traffic is always bad the first week…

  • andrew

    the parents could fight back and punish the district with two words “home school” if the parents would home school there kids just the thought of losing all the revenue per kid would force them to rethink their pay to ride deal

    • Kevin

      Except that KISD teachers are much better teachers than the average parent who thinks that home schooling is a panacea.

  • Nina

    My- how things are changing! I wonder who is the “brilliant” mind behind this idea;
    and come to think about it, what happenned to the funds that tx school districts
    suppossed to be receiving from texas lottery? never heard any news regarding any of their contributions to anything ; or am I missing something?

  • Spider

    Well Excellent. I am glad to see my tax dollars aren’t being wasted on the average everyday Americans. Those tax dollars need to be set aside for the illegal alien kids. I mean to hell with our American children, there are some humble law breaking violators of our Federal immigration laws that need the money more then are own.

  • esmith

    I guess the district can no longer go after students for excessive absences. Our district will prosecute parents whos children miss too many days of school. The fine is roughly $200.00/day. Transportation has never been an excuse because the bus shows up at the corner of the street. BTW every poor person in America is not Hispanic or illegal. With the current economic conditions many white middle class people are being downsized and can’t afford extra school fees.

    • Kevin

      Yes, they can still go after kids/parents, and they should. Mommy and Daddy who didn’t want to pay extra taxes now have to either fork over the money or drive them themselves.

      The educational charge doesn’t change…

  • suzy

    everyone wants budget cuts to “others”. now our children are the others. it all gets paid for one way or another. the voters of KISD brought this upon themselves. be careful how you vote.

  • Johanna Wise

    We use Dallas County school buses. I like that because we don’t have to worry about the ill-fated decisions of one city or district. It is more efficient too because a bus can service a school on a route that is in a neighboring district, and multiple schools for a bus when it proves ideal. Here and where we used to live (HEB) they have had the 2-mile rule for a long time, too, so I don’t understand the whining? If you are less than 2 miles away, too bad you walk, no bus service available even for a fee. That is why I choose my location carefully.

  • Texas_Moderate

    The downfall of Texas was allowing the Republicans to take charge. They love to fee you to death because they don’t believe fees are taxes.

    • CT

      Seriously!!!! You are saying we should be like California or Illinois that democrats have run into the ground? Texas is the best state because of conservatives. Why are so many people moving from states controlled by democrats to Texas and other Republican states? Wait, don’t answer that, you obviously have no clue. Ask your bank about the higher fees and credit card interest that were passed along to EVERYONE because of the frank/dodd financial reform bill.

  • linda

    protest outside All schools and refuse to send kids to school in large numbers, that will get media attention and the schools will loose their money for absentees……….time to take charge and stand up america!!!!

    • Kevin

      So you’re advocating making the problem worse? Why are you against schools, for God’s sake?

      • LINDA


  • Karl

    Ok so there is afee to ride the bus and many parents are choosing to take their kids. So I will expect to see some buses for sale. Also we should be seeing bus drivers and monitors out looking for work in the private sector. Schools say this is the only choice but never follow through with cuts that affect their elite staff. When I see staff terminations then I will know this is the real deal and not just a punishment to people that just cant do any more. To those that think this is politics your are right but I wouldnt blame a party but the government system as a whole. If you dont have money you cut back and many Americans are cutting to the bone. The working ones anyway. Not the government. They want you to pay the same for much less or pay more for same.

  • CT

    Just a year or two ago, the district asked for a brand new staduim close to Jerry’s world standards. Are you telling me that you could have afforded a new staduim but can’t afford busses?? The school buildings here are beautifully built with state of the art materials, waste, waste, waste. If you give school districts money, they have to find ways to spend it. If they don’t spend it, it’s not in their budget the next year. There is no incentive to save for these people! It’s easy for other people to criticize not raising taxes, but do you know the tax rate in Keller ISD? I do because I pay an outragous amount already. If the tax rate is not going up, then the value of my property is going up, it is always one or the other with this district every year.


    When I was a kid we either walked to school, and yes, nearly a mile even in rain or snow, or we were to bus it. Parents had to pay for the bus in this same capacity as Keller when wages were probably less than our minimum wage currently. This was in the 70’s. One car households, most Mom’s didn’t work, etc. I even walked to High School nearly half a mile in the 80’s in Allen as they weren’t providing a bus period. I don’t see much wrong with what Keller is doing.

    As for the illegal comments – and I have a big issue with this myself and all the government handouts – but aren’t most of these kids American because they are born here by their illegal parents at Parkland. Surely we don’t educate the kids that are truly illegal – because that would be illegal, right?

    • Kevin

      Good thing we don’t live back then.

      Schools have to educate all children who live in the district, legal or not. It’s been that way for a very long time. But that’s such an insignificant problem in Keller it’s not even worth discussing. Keller is not a haven for illegal immigration…

      Just realize that parents who are now dropping off kids (when they didn’t before) and who are paying for the bus (when they didn’t before) are now paying *less* for other goods and services. This is an economic hit for the community at large. Since taxes didn’t go up, do you think the economic hit is being covered by those who don’t have kids to pay for?

  • Melissa

    Thank you Keller Independent School District for a horrendous nightmare dropping off and picking up students. Your ‘Pay to Ride’ bus program was a smashing success and your prices are even better. 185 per semester per kid with a whopping drop to 135 per additional student. Your generosity warms my heart…oh wait- that was 102 degree heat we were stuck in. Nevermind.

  • Keller ISD?s Pay-To-Ride Bus Program Begins — Me and the Chicks

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