Houston Bond Measure Illustrates Growing Voter Appetite to Fund Student Transportation

New Cypress-Fairbanks ISD buses purchased with bond money.
Cypress-Fairbanks ISD purchased 300 new buses with a voter-approved bond in 2014. The latest funding will reduce the district's replacement cycle to 12 years.

The third-largest school district in Texas will see a large infusion of cash over the coming six years to purchase new school buses that will be equipped with lap-shoulder seat belts. They will replace existing GPS hardware and renovate one of the district’s five transportation centers.

Houston-area voters on May 4 overwhelmingly approved a $1.762 billion bond package for Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. In addition to funding transportation initiatives, the district said in February, when explaining the bond measure, the money is also anticipated to meet key needs. The list includes: instructional and support facilities, safety and security, technology and facilities, plus renovations and additions through 2025.

The transportation department is receiving over $88.162 million to implement a 12-year replacement cycle—down from the current period of 15 years—and purchase the three-point seat belts that are required by state law. Districts may opt out, but only if a school board holds a public meeting to discuss a lack of funds to pay any incremental cost of adding the occupant restraint systems to new bus purchases.

Cy-Fair ISD, like many school districts across the nation, is also experiencing student growth, and with it, an influx of students who are eligible for school bus transportation.

Kayne Smith, director of transportation at Cy-Fair ISD, told School Transportation News that the new transportation facility is projected to open in 2022, with the first purchases of new buses occurring next year or in 2021. Additionally, the district has one more year of purchasing buses as part of a $1.2 billion bond that was passed in 2014.

The district used its share of that money to acquire 300 new buses. It also used those funds to make multiple facility renovations, with some of those still underway, pave new or existing bus parking lots and purchase new tow trucks.


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Smith added that the new bond funds will also enable the district to install air conditioning in all five of its transportation centers.

“Very, very few districts in the nation have air-conditioned shops,” he observed. “That will benefit us greatly.”

Smith said preliminary discussions are underway with the district’s administration on prioritizing the various projects approved by voters earlier this month. But one thing is for sure, the local community threw its support behind not only student transportation, but the district, as a whole.

“There was even more support for this bond than in 2014,” added Smith, who will discuss how bonds can benefit student transportation operations at the STN EXPO Indianapolis on June 10. “Seventy percent of our community voted yes. A number of bonds in Houston failed.”

Elsewhere, the California School Boards Association said last week that new statewide polling shows that six out of 10 voters support a ballot measure to raise $11 billion to $14 billion in public school funding.

Photos courtesy of Cypress-Fairbanks ISD.