August 29, 2014
In my visits to schools this week I’ve seen nothing but teacher enthusiasm and student excitement. The schools look great and classrooms are welcoming. The first day of school is always a wonderful event and this year has been no different. From this perspective, it’s been a great first week of school.
On the other hand, when it comes to student transportation, it’s been a difficult week for some parents. We continue to work with Student Transportation of America, Inc. (STA) to overcome significant busing issues that have impacted students. There have been some improvements as the week progressed, but problems remain.
A number of buses are still arriving late for morning pickups and afternoon drop-offs. On occasion, stops have been missed and a few students are still unassigned to a route. Certain bus routes are too long and STA is in the process of splitting them to shorten student ride times. The biggest problem has been that the volume of parent phone calls coming in to STA was underestimated; resulting in return calls not being made in a timely manner. To help correct this issue, three additional phone lines were added to STA’s call center earlier this week, a voicemail system has been installed, and more personnel were added to handle parent calls.
I apologize to the families who have encountered transportation issues. We are working with STA around the clock to correct problems, address concerns, and inform parents. I met with STA management this morning to review their overall performance and develop a remedial action plan. They will be working all weekend to make sure all students are scheduled and transported properly on Tuesday and I am counting on STA to respond to each parent who called over the last few days. While not all routing and stop change requests can be honored, each one will be reviewed and a decision communicated back to the parent.
Even though STA is an outside contractor, it is the district’s responsibility, and ultimately my responsibility, to make sure these problems are corrected and we will do so in the quickest way possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Michael Schilder, Ed.D.