When school starts on Monday, five HISD school buses will look just a little a bit different on the inside, after being adapted to fit the district’s youngest students.
HISD’s Transportation Services modified the buses to make them safer to transport pre-kindergarten students to Woodson PK-5 Leadership Academy. The school’s full-day pre-kindergarten program expanded this school year, and nearly 250 pre-K students from the Sunnyside community are enrolled in the program.
“In Transportation, our primary goal is to deliver students to and from school safely,” Transportation Services General Manager Tim Brown said. “To do this for the pre-K students at Woodson, it required us to modify the seats on these buses to ensure their safety.”
Transporting pre-k students requires a different set of safety measures, Brown said, noting that traditional buses were retrofitted to accommodate the younger students.
The five buses assigned to the growing pre-k program at Woodson are now equipped with special seats — similar to a high-back booster seat — that attach to the existing bus seat. The pre-K students will be placed in the seats and fastened in with harness straps.
Bus drivers on the routes will have assistance from attendants provided by Woodson. The driver will pick up the attendants at the school and then proceed through their regular route. The attendant will ensure each student is fastened securely in their seat.
Woodson Principal Stephen Gittens said the modified school buses provide young students with a valuable opportunity to begin their education early.
“A lot of children who are three, they’re staying at home and their not being educated. Having transportation allows them to be picked up and be safe while they’re on the way to school,” Gittens said. “The child is not staying home, stagnant. It gives them the chance to grow academically.”
Woodson pre-K students and their parents got a chance to test out the seats on Wednesday during a Meet the Teacher event. Transportation Services had two of the retrofitted buses on hand for parents and students to practicing boarding and being secured in the seats.
“Having the buses on hand at Woodson will help these students adjust to riding on a school bus,” Brown said. “It also will give parents peace of mind to know their child is being transported to and from school in a safe manner. They get to see the seats, put their children in them, and see for themselves the safety measures we put in place on our buses.”
The buses will run their first official routes on Monday, Aug. 27 — the first day of school in the Houston Independent School District.