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August 28, 2019 Transportation Message from the Superintendent

August 28, 2019

Dear Parents of Bus Riders,

While it was a better morning with bus transportation, we are still seeing challenges with our service.  District 31 is continuing to work with First Student and our partner districts on improvements in timeliness and consistency.  District 31 recognizes, and is communicating to First Student, that our parents rely on consistent and safe bus service for their children.  In fact, they not only rely on it, they invest in it.

This morning, District 31 participated in a meeting with First Student leadership and administration in our partner districts.  The regional vice-president of First Student was in attendance at this meeting, in addition to the local leaders of our dispatch center.  First Student was very apologetic, took responsibility for the lack of communication and timeliness with buses, and came prepared with an action plan.  The action plan included the following elements:

  • First Student will be providing District 31, free of charge, with the First View app.  This app will allow parents and District Administration to view and track bus route progress in the morning and afternoon in “real” time (lag time is usually around a minute). First Student is committed to setting District 31 up on the app and testing it over the next week with a planned roll out on September 9.  Both First Student and District 31 will be communicating next week how parents download and set up the app, prior to the official roll out date.
  • First Student will also be communicating with parents in the next few days to demonstrate their remorse and desire to rebuild trust.  They are aware that rebuilding trust will take time and will require consistency and communication on their part.
  • First Student shared improvements in their operational structures to better provide communication to district and school offices, so we can help communicate in a timely manner. They also provided a timeline of when offices could anticipate daily communication, as one of the challenges as been learning of delays last minute.
  • While some of the problems over the last few days has been operational in nature, and exasperated by a lack of communication, First Student shared that a root cause has been bus driver shortages. Bus issues seem to be most prevalent on the routes that do not yet have a permanent driver. They shared their recruitment and hiring strategy. In the meantime, they have made arrangements with other First Student sites to provide substitute drivers until all of our routes are filled. This weekend First Student will be running practice runs of their routes with drivers to ensure the routes, stops and timing are in place for after Labor Day weekend.  
  • First Student also promised to reprint the Winkelman bus passes.  We hope to receive them soon.

We are hopeful that the transportation will be improved moving forward.  First Student leadership said that they expect the bus service to be running smoothly the rest of the week.  In the meantime, District 31 administrators will be at the following corners tomorrow morning in case the buses on the impacted routes (Winkelman Bus L and Field Bus K) are running late.  If they are late, we will be happy to supervise your children on those corners so you can go to work (luckily, we anticipate it to be a sunny day). Times listed are the approximate times the bus is scheduled to service that neighborhood for the WInkelman run.  Administration will remain until the Field run is complete.

  • 4300 W. Lake (Brookview Village Complex) - approximately 7:00am
  • Corner of Pleasant Run and Landwehr - approximately 7:20am
  • Corner of Oliver and Landwehr - approximately 7:30am
  • Corner of Oxford and Clover - approximately 7:35am
  • Corner of Kayjay and Doriann - approximately 7:40am

We know that this has been an inconvenience and we appreciate your patience as we work with First Student leadership and the other impacted districts.

Sincerely,

Dr. Erin Murphy and the Administrative Team  

Superintendent of Schools