Etoile ISD discontinuing bus service to Woden

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Since around the 1940s, Woden has had the only high school in that neck of the woods. That means students attending Etoile, just 11 miles down the road, are bused into Woden when they reach high-school age.

"Historically, Etoile has run a bus route from Etoile with the transfer students to Woden," Woden Superintendent Brent Hawkins said.

"It was just a service," Etoile Superintendent Andy Trekell said. "I mean, it was something that has been going on for however long it's been going on."

But the school camaraderie is ending. Etoile buses will no longer serve Woden transfers. The district is launching its own ninth grade high school program, with the intention of creating someday a four-year program.

"And once they opened their high school that agreement kinda went null and void," Hawkins said.

This means three sisters from Etoile won't be riding the bus to Woden.

"It's always been one way in the past and now it's going forward, it's a different way," parent Niki Scaief said. "I think both school districts are trying to decide what direction they're going to go and how they're going to handle this."

Some in the community are watching their step around the school bus issue. They're interpreting it as a feud between two superintendents.

"I probably haven't spoken to him on the phone now for over a year," Trekkell said.

"Riff between people," Hawkins said. "We're adults. We need to go beyond those things. To me it's a service to kids."

For now the Woden buses are washed and ready to pick up students living in Woden and Etoile. The only admission is a commitment to study and good behavior.

The Etoile superintendent is volunteering his service during inclimate weather.

He says he'll personally pick up students from Woden's Etoile bus stop and drive them home in his own vehicle.

According to Trekell, the long-standing agreement was created to bus Etoile high schoolers to Woden. Since then, Etoile also bussed younger students who decided to transfer to the school. He said he decided to end the agreement when he learned Woden was sending a bus to Etoile to pick up more children. He said he did not see the reasoning behind sending a bus to Woden if Woden was sending a bus anyway.

Trekell said Etoile ISD would continue to pick up students from their homes in the morning and drop them off at Etoile ISD. A Woden bus could then pick them up and take them to Woden ISD.

Hawkins sent a letter on Aug. 17 to his students and parents which lived in Etoile and explained Trekell's decision. The letter stated Woden ISD would send buses to Etoile to pick up those students.

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