Little fuss was made Monday night at the board meeting over the busing issues that plagued the district heavily the first two weeks of school.
Despite Monday's meeting being the first board meeting since the start of the school year and the busing problems began, few public comments from the community were made on the subject. Rather, the roughly 20 or so community members in attendance did more listening than speaking as they received an update from Director of Business Services Lorie Pilster as well as a brief speech from Westway Coach President John Benish.
Pilster said it was clear correcting [the busing issues] wasn't going to happen in a day and that Westway was in constant contact with her and committed to making the necessary adjustments.
District 58 Superintendent Paul Zaander echoed Pilster's statements about Westway's commitment to fixing its mistakes by adding the company was well vetted by the district and has a long pedigree of quality service.
Pilster went on to say that after a “very rough first six days” with Westway things have gotten drastically better and she is now at the point of dealing what she considers to be “normal” issues that come up at this point of the school year every year, such as bus stops being too far or buses stopping on the wrong side of the street.
After the status update from Pilster, Westway president John Benish addressed the room, emphatically apologizing and assuring everyone the problem rested solely on Westway's shoulders and not the district's.
“At no time, I want to be clear, was it an issue with info we were given from the district,” Benish said.
In his address, Benish cited a plethora of problems that contributed to the bad performance of his company, including lack of readiness and preparedness, not using the same drivers on the same routes, routes not working together, and so on.
Westway continues to hire new drivers, Benish said, but estimated they are still probably 7 to 15 drivers short of where they want to be depending on the day. The routes are still being covered, Benish said, but they're borrowing permanent drivers from their sister companies.
After his speech, Benish made himself available for anyone in attendance that had specific, unresolved busing issues.