Steve RobinsonIn the column I wrote last week, I mentioned that First Student Bus Co. officials say they believe they have done as much as possible to prevent the problems students, their parents, and district officials experienced as a result of late buses, and a shortage of regular and substitute drivers

The situation resulted in a need for change in time for the start of this school year. No one – not district administrators, First Student representatives, and of course, parents and students – want a repeat of that situation.

Members of Normal-based Unit 5 Board of Education looked to make every effort to get in front of the situation once they had the full scope of it, including making sure the Cincinnati, Ohio-based transportation company knew there would be consequences – including the possibility of terminating the contract the two parties had in place – if First Student didn’t fix matters.

Among those Board members, Mike Trask, who is in the middle of his second term, once he saw what was unfolding at the start of last year, referred to the situation on the part of First Student as “an epic fail.” It was a term those who attended Board meetings heard him use whenever the subject of the start of last school year’s situation was brought up.

But with school starting next week, on Aug. 16, Trask admitted to me he still has “some skepticism” about how things will go. Trask admits that skepticism is based on last year’s events.

As Trask assesses the situation at this point, “I will say with the new management structure at First Student, the new alliance, between First Student and its drivers, and of course, the number of drivers that are actively showing up, I have a lot of strong confidence that we will start off the first day much, much, much better than last year.”

“Will it be perfect?” Trask asked rhetorically. “No. But I don’t think any school year, when we start off, ever starts perfectly.” He said he’s looking for “what should be the norm when things start this year than what they did last year.”

He said First Student having an adequate number of drivers – enough drivers for the 126 routes – was important. He also said communication between the district and the bus company, and then extending that communication and information to parents was important to consider.

Trask said the communication between the district and First Student “needs to be open and proactive.”

To First Student officials, Trask reminded there is a binding contract between them and the district which needs to be honored.

As for the parties who receive service through this contract, Trask had some thoughts for parents whose children get to and from school because of First Student’s efforts. “My advice to parents is that if there is something that isn’t going right, to make sure they make the proper contacts and reach out to First Student.”

He added, after contacting First Student, and they still aren’t feeling good about the response they get, “parents can reach out to Dr. Daniel.” That would be Dr. Mark Daniel, Unit 5’s District Superintendent.

But Trask reminds, “There is a normal amount of patience we all have to have at the beginning of the year.”

This entry was posted on Friday, August 4th, 2017 at 10:00 pm and is filed under The Normalite, Unit 5. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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