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Fewer school bus stops mean fuel savings

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Here's the latest sign of how higher fuel prices are affecting our daily lives: In Naperville School District 203, buses are making 25 percent fewer stops this year to reduce fuel consumption. Fewer stops means that for many children, their stops are farther from their homes. Only a block or so in most cases, the district says, adding that it is fielding many complaints from parents about this, Friday's Sun reports.

Parents, how do you feel about the new system? If you're negatively impacted by it, what do you think should be done? And taxpayers, what do you think? Should the district be commended for trying something that will save money, and positively impact the environment via reduced fuel consumption? If these type of changes are to become the norm, what should district officials consider as they implement them?

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17 Comments

Hi guys, I am a driver for First Student. I drive for both Dist. 204 & Dist. 203 and let me tell you Dist. 204 is trying to implement less stops also and I know for a fact that that some stops have had drastic changes, for example I know some students that will have to walk 1/4 mile further to get to their new stop, and that stop has around 30 students.

Lets see:

* Big pay raises for teachers

* More than generous pension plans and benefits

* Big pay raises for administrators

* Big new High School building

* Astroturf playing fields

* Cut in service safety for children as young as K

When does the next teachers contract in 203 come up again?

Does anyone feel the next strike threat and tax referendum coming?

BOHICA

Anonymous 2, please ascertain the facts before posting. No, district 203 transportation was not outsourced to India but to First Student that is owned by the FirstGroup of England. Yes, your tax dollars end up in the UK. Just because a company has an office in Cincinnati, OH doesn’t make it an American company. Secondly, First Student provides the route busing for the Kingsley elementary school, not District 203 buses. You could determine this information very quickly by looking at the name on the side of the bus. All district 203 buses say “Naperville CUSD 203”. Again I suggest you contact superintendent Leis or your favorite school board member to obtain answers to problems regarding First Student busing. I maintain the management of District 203 Transportation is an extremely dedicated group providing outstanding attention to all students and routing under their control.

Always-Right,

These our our schools, our students, our parents, our citizens, our taxpayers.

I personally could care less if it is a SD bus driver or a First Student bus driver. The subtle distinction to anyone who is paying their taxes and has a child in these circumstances could care less.

In a similar vein, I personally could care less if the SD transportation department or a superintendent is managing the First Student contract. The bottom line someone needs to step up to the plate and take responsibility for what happened and getting it fixed pronto.

If there had been effective management oversight of this contract in the first place these kinds of problems would have been identified before the first bus rolled on the first day of class.

The entire system has a huge void of effective communication to advise parents, students, and even schools when something goes seriously wrong with a bus or driver on any route. The first step should be to find an effective way to fix the communications problem so at least our children won't be left abandoned on street corners.

Someone isn't doing there job and someone needs to be held accountable.

Finger pointing doesn't get children to school. Finger pointing doesn't get children home from school. Finger pointing doesn't instill any confidence in parents that the SD is living up to their duty to protect our children.

It is obvious D203 transportation department does NOT have an 'excellent' management team or else they wouldn't be having these issues. Jingoistic cries about outsourcing transportation to a foreign country (what, the buses are in India now? -- FirstStudent is headquarted in Cincinnati, BTW) don't absolve D203's transportation team from responsibility. They should be on top of the issue and, if need be, sending out buses of their own to pick up students who are stranded.

I advocate the parents writing on this blog do a little research to ensure their facts are correct before posting. District 203 Transportation department has an excellent management team and many exceptional drivers and most of the problems are not the result of District 203 Transportation. Any busing problem is the result of the superintendent and the school board out-sourcing a large portion of student transportation to a foreign country. As you will remember, two years ago, District 203 drivers pay and benefits were cut up to 30 percent and many of the District 203 routes were given to Laidlaw, now First Student. District 203 transportation has no control over their busing operation and routes because they are the responsibility of First Student Company. Student busing at the schools under controlled by District 203 Transportation department and drivers remain a first class operation with very few problems due to dedicated management and school bus drivers who put the students first. If you are having a problem, It makes sense to see who is busing your student.

I had the chance to talk to a school administrator yesterday about the situation. Please be aware that they are doing everything they can at the school level to correct this situation. They are as concerned as you are that the buses are having problems. They are working as closely as they can with the transportation department to correct this as soon as possible. It’s as disruptive to their day as it is to yours. Please take it easy on the principals and the teachers. There have been numerous instances of parents yelling at and telling off the school level staff. There is not much they can do to solve this problem. Obviously they are willing to listen to everyone and try to correct the situation but when it comes down to it this is something the transportation department needs to correct. Please take it easy on everyone at your local school. I can guarantee you you will get farther along if you are nice rather then screaming at them.

Let's see the SD transportation system had no one to answer their phone and no one to verify that the bus and driver for bus #3 actually departed on time as scheduled. And no one called the school to advise them that there was a major problem headed their way? That is clear incompetence in performing even the most basic of duties in a school transportation department.

Seems like some heads should be rolling at the transportation department. This is absolutely unbelievable. And people this incompetent are trusted with ensuring the safety of our children?

I'm not sure why some parents even waited 45 minutes. If a bus hasn't shown within 10, maybe 15 minutes of its normally scheduled time something is seriously wrong. I would never, ever wait more than 15 minutes for a late bus.

In a continued effort to save fuel for District 203, an entire bus route decided not to take the kids to school today. Just when we thought this situation could not get any worse, it has. After waiting 45 minutes this morning for bus #3 to Kingsley School, we decided it was going to be a no show. We called the school wondering if they had heard anything and they said it would likely not show up. They were not able to reach anyone at the transportation department. Apparetnly we can't count on the buses to show up and bring our children to school. Is this how the district plans on cutting fuel costs now?

lets see wahhh wahhh wahhh the schools are spending too much, wahhh wahhh wahhh my kids have to walk to a new bus stop to save the school some money. To me it seems like the same people who are whining that the schools cost too much don't seem to want to make any sacrifices to help keep the costs down.

People its a new system give the district some time to work out the kinks. They are trying to do the right thing. New process usually have a few kinks and it takes a few adjustments. I say give the district credit for trying to do the right thing.

I have no problem with the kids walking a little further to a new stop either - exercise in any form is a good thing. However, I do know of families who are forced to cross River Road (with no crosswalk conveniently located) which at 7:45am is a dangerous thing. One has a young first-grader, and another had a younger child with her as well. I can only imagine what this will be like for them n bad weather...

My main issues with the changes are 1) notification of the new system should have come BEFORE school started so we'd understand why the buses had changed so drastically, and 2) no human intervention took place to evaluate the stop assignments before they were sent out - just took the output of the computer program and let it go. My bus driver even agreed that the stop my daughter was assigned to was not a good choice (she's chosen to walk further to a safer stop).

The article on the 203 website, the Talk203 email to the parents (on the day after school started), and the Naperville Sun article were all damage control.

Give me a break,

You have shed a whole new light in this story. I wonder why none of the concerns you expressed were reported in the Naperville Sun?

The issue is NOT that children may walking to a new bus stop. The issue is that since the new system was implemented, students have been late to school all week because the buses are driving all over the place, and the kids are getting home an HOUR AFTER school is dismissed. We live 5 minutes from one school and 10 minutes from another. It is a complete nightmare and the new system obviously is not working. Every day this week the junior high kids have sat outside the school for 40 minutes waiting for the bus to arrive so they could go home. Does this sound like a good system to you? And the bus is so crowded that kids are actually sitting in the aisle. Yes, you read that right...lined up and down the aisle. Isn't that against the law? To have a school bus that much over capacity? It has not been a good week and the new bus sytem is a nightmare. By the end of the week, parents were so fed up with the whole situation, that they were driving to the school to pick up their children. This is not a good solution because that is going to increase traffic around the school and it's not fair that we have to do this. We give this school district enough money and they just passed a $115 million referendum AND gave Alan Leis a 6% raise. They need to fix this.

i would guess there is a fine line regarding 'distance walked' whether to the bus or school... if too far, the students might not show up for school..and the school wants high attendance.

Why in a financial and energy crunch would we give people large raises to our administrations and other officials and then cut services to the children. It will not be in the best interest of our community to let this stand. Our officials are acting fiscally irresponsible and in their own best interest. These are certainly sad days for our community.

I am sure that we will all face additional referendum requests to further fund this train wreck. My vote will be no until the people in office/administration making these decisions are gone. We need to show that we are not going to stand for this. Save the money on raises and fund what ever our kids services are. If they don't like it find a new job. We don't need more self interest in our public offices. Illinois has enough of this BS.

As a high school student my school district didn't offer bus service where I lived. Getting to and from school simply meant I had to walk. I never considered it a big deal and must say I got a lot of good exercise through the daily trek. It is funny how you can quickly get acclimated to something new if you accept it and actually give it a try. Being open minded and flexible helps too.

Granted, there are probably a lot of students these days who live a lot further from their high school than I did where a walk would not be practical. Requiring children to walk a short distance to a bus stop simply is not unreasonable and is good management of school resources to provide transportation in a more cost effective manner. I welcome any opportunity of our local taxing bodies to be more conservative with their spending and our tax dollars.

If there are safety issues, such as children needing to cross a busy street I think the SD should review and address these situations. However, if all we are talking about is a little bit of an extra walk in their own neighborhood then this conversation isn't even worth having. If these children or parents are that spoiled they should look into contracting with a private transportation service. If what you are getting on the taxpayers dime isn't good enough for you then put your money where your mouth is and pay for it yourself. If it isn't so important that you are willing to pay for it out of your own pocket then all you are doing is whining and complaining.

No money for gas, gave it all to the park district director... sorry kids!

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This page contains a single entry by Naperville Sun editors published on August 22, 2008 7:30 AM.

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