First Student says its ready for new school year

Unit 5 is trying to avoid last year's bussing issues.

NORMAL, Ill. - Unit 5 School District is looking to avoid some of the busing problems that plagued the district at the beginning of last school year. With the first day of school right around the corner, its busing company First Student says it's prepared for the year.

First Student officials spoke to the Unit 5 school board on Wednesday night, assuring them that they are ready for the upcoming school year.

Last year, Unit 5 overhauled its busing system, moving to a two tier system. During the transition, students and parents saw overcrowding problems and buses showing up late to school, sometimes by hours.

This year, First Students says it's got 146 drivers ready to cover the routes, with another group about to complete training. Drivers will also be given extra time to work on their routes, which will be the same in both the mornings and afternoons. Several routes have also been split to reduce the amount of time students spend on the bus.
 

"I've got kids that are going to ride the bus. And I'm confident that they're going to get on and it'll get where it's going when it's supposed to and they'll get back safely as well," said board member Joseph Cleary.


First Student has told WMBD previously that last year was an anomaly. To handle questions from parents, the company has hired another, temporary, communications person. The goal is to have 98% success rate with keeping buses on schedule.


This is the final year of first year's three year contract, meaning the district could look for another vendor if the school year doesn't start well. But, so far, school board members say they're pleased with the changes.


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