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Busing Issues Addressed at D58 Board Meeting

Updates given from district, Westway.

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.

Elizabeth Major September 14, 2011 at 01:16 AM
I was surprised more parents weren't present to express their concerns about the bus situation - especially after so many commented on the various stories on this site. I was satisfied when Mr. Benish took responsiblity for the whole mess so the only comments I made at the meeting were in regard to the district's lack of timely communication about the problems. I got more emails from Dist 99 on the matter and my student there doesn't ride the bus!
Barbara Shames Melone September 14, 2011 at 01:59 AM
This morning at Kingsley, a Westway driver blocked the only exit to the parking lot, despite the pleas and objections of the 12 drivers who were unable to exit. He insisted that he had to wait there or the school would not know he was there. He wouldn't move until one of the stranded parents went to notify the office of his presence. Clearly, common sense is not a job requirement. Thank goodness my child does not ride their buses!!
Chad D. Walz September 14, 2011 at 02:57 AM
There used to be a time when a drivers child could ride with them. What ever happend to those days? Seems to me more at home parents might join the ranks of the work force if jobs were more flex!
Chad D. Walz September 14, 2011 at 03:00 AM
Like I said Barbara...it's not rocket science. Most of driving any vehicle is common sense. We all play our roles in this world and one of those roles is to safely drive our children to and from school. I will say it again...I can't fathom that competitant people do not want to apply for a job that offers them a lot of flexability. Last time I checked the unemployment rate was over 9%. You got to do what you got to do to make a living.
Chad D. Walz September 14, 2011 at 03:03 AM
Susie poo, I could rock a bus baby! A bus is simple compared to driving a big rig for a living. Definitly a job soooo easy I could do it. That is why less than 1% of all America own a CDL license. :)

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