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D113A Bus Drivers Plead for Public's Voice on Transportation Outsourcing

The district's current bus drivers are concerned outsourcing the schools' transportation would have a negative impact on students.

School bus drivers for District 113-A have their routes memorized. They know each student who plods onto the bus—by name, even.

That's something you don't necessarily see when just any driver is behind the wheel of the bus that carts your child to and from school each day, they say. The group is asking parents to speak to the importance of keeping transportation in-house, as the Board of Education mulls the possibility and affordability of outsourcing the service. 

The board has received three bids, and two different school bus companies up for consideration. The district employs 21 people for its student transportation services, and leases the buses used.

Board President Cindy Kelly has said the district is considering the option as a way to offset cuts in state funding.

A shift in bus service would mean changes for students, said bus driver Amanda Samanich. Many of the bus drivers have been with the district for 20 or more years, she said. 

"They wouldn't have a routine driver. They'd have different bus numbers," she said. "It's a lot of inconsistency for the kids."

It's uncertain what would happen to the department's employees, if the board decides to go with an outside provider. 

"Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of your children," the bus drivers wrote in an email to Patch.

A presentation on the bids will take place at the board's Feb. 19 meeting, at 7 p.m. at Old Quarry Middle School. Samanich was told the drivers will know their future employment status as of March 1.

The group encourages parents to attend the meeting and voice their opinion. 

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Joe Mann February 15, 2014 at 08:55 AM
Is it possible to eliminate the school buses by having the parents drive? This could save the taxpayers a bundle and put the responsibility where it belongs.
gmknuth February 15, 2014 at 09:54 AM
School Districts lose control when they out-source. We've all seen the headlines about school bus drivers that managed to get hired with inappropriate backgrounds, others that leave kids unattended on buses, and some that were drinking on the job. When a district out-sources, it no longer selects its drivers. I think that we can find other more appropriate places to cut costs.
Heather Bury February 15, 2014 at 10:01 AM
My daughter relies on the fact that she takes bus number 2. Any deviation from that, I fear, will cause her great confusion. I am comfortable that I know who her driver is. I TRUST her driver with my child. Giving her over to any driver that picks the straw that day seems irresponsible. Who are they? I trust the district drivers because they are screened and have background checks done...I don't trust that the outsourced companies do this rigorous background check. There are other ways to cut costs...
Cathy Heatherington February 15, 2014 at 11:00 AM
My kids are now in high school, but took the bus from kindergarten through fifth grade. We love OUR bus drivers. Many of them are Lemont residents and parents of sd113a students themselves. They are the people that are transporting your child to and from school and home five days a week and you really get to know and trust them, as does your child. I vote to keep OUR bus drivers. They are the best!
Carrie Janeckie February 15, 2014 at 11:25 AM
I vote to go with in the most economical way possible. We currently have 5 yr old children walking 1.50 miles to kindergarten due to bus service cuts made 3 yrs ago. Until there is money to restore that service to those families with no service, every family who is privileged enough to have service must have it in the most economical way possible. Its unfair, since this is taxpayer money, to give more expensive service to some while other are doing without.
Victor Fischer February 15, 2014 at 01:09 PM
Safety of the children should come first. Too many news reports of children being left on a bus, or dropped off at the wrong place. Like Cathy, the present drivers know each child, where they get off and the individuals meeting the bus. With the safety issues today, how can you trust an outside firm unless they hire the existing drivers, and that is no guarantee.
Carrie Janeckie February 15, 2014 at 02:14 PM
Who looks out for the safety of my children when they walk 1.50 miles on sidewalks that hasn't been shoveled all winter? Where was everyone's safety concerns when they were cutting bus service to over 400 homes 3 yrs ago in an effort to save money?
Who dat February 15, 2014 at 04:28 PM
Carrie, as a parent, you have to look out for the safety of your own children, I'm sorry to tell you. If you don't like the unshoveled and untreated sidewalks--call the police. I'm sure they'll get right to it. There's only 4 things I miss about Lemont: BG fries Sweetwater Deli Lemont House Turnabout You can keep all the whining and empty storefronts.
martin finn February 15, 2014 at 05:31 PM
the patch article never reports on the potential cost savings. Substantial? Apparently 3 years ago they were substantial and it impacted ms janeckie negatively. if the current savings are on the same scale you must hold your nose and make the change. that's fair. then the new provider must be worthy and monitored carefully.
Carrie Janeckie February 15, 2014 at 07:29 PM
I have called the police / transportation director / & the village, as you see they have remained unshoveled. So that "get to it" attitude doesn't seem to be shared with our local government. Also I have been looking out for my kids safety for the past 3 yrs because no one else has. Its time for the parents who feel they might not have a quality driver if the bus service is outsourced, to do the same.
Edward Andrysiak February 16, 2014 at 09:06 PM
The buses are leased so the cost per bus mile is a determinable factor that will likely not be affected by outsourcing the service. Fuel and maintenance are determinable numbers as well. So, it is safe to assume that the ONLY savings will be in the cost of labor...the drivers salaries and bennies. In short, to save money an outside firm will get drivers as cheaply as they can. If you want you kid in the hands of the least talented driver available...go for the cut. In my book however I would like to see the community informed as to what the exact savings in dollars will be. It may not be worth the change and risk for our kids. Additionally the increase might be something that can be funded in another way. I know we elected folks to make these decisions but input from the community just might bring forward some new ideas. Spell out the costs and savings indicating how they are to be achieved... for us please.
Carrie Janeckie February 16, 2014 at 10:02 PM
The Covington Knolls / Abbey Oaks subdivisions are all 1.50 miles or under, with the exception of about 10 homes on the eastern most portion. So basically there is a point where 1 house gets bus service & their next door neighbor does not. I understand these parents are concerned about their the quality of drivers their children receive. Im a parent..I do get it. However, its completely unfair to make cuts on 1 transportation problem where saving $ trumps safety & then 3 yrs later say "safety trumps saving $. Which is it? You cant have it both ways. Either safety comes 1st ALL the time for ALL children or money does. The school board made their decision 3 yrs ago that money is more important & they need to use those same guidelines when making this decision. At least until they restore the cut bus service. Then we will all be on an even playing field again. We will all have good or bad service..but the key is we will ALL have service.
Carrie Janeckie February 17, 2014 at 03:26 PM
No I can not just check a bus. If the address that my children are registered to is 1.50 miles or under there is no bus service given to them. They are expected to walk or I must drive them. As you probably see the sidewalk along 127th has yet to be touched by a shovel this winter, so a safe passage to school is clearly not a concern. So if its not the #1 priority for some kids, it not fair to make it #1 priority for others. You cant just play the child safety card, at you will.
tom knopinski February 18, 2014 at 04:08 PM
To taxpayers/parents within SD113A Not know is that SD113A is not mandated to provide transportation. Being serve by Pace, district may save $'s with by-passing student transportation, i.e. saving taxpayer dollars. Awareness! Semper Paratus For further information, please contact the district business office during normal hours.

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