Audit says District 300 busing exceeds state, federal standards
By Suzanne Baker firstname.lastname@example.org February 11, 2014 8:48AM
School District 300 is doing a good job busing approximately 16,000 students daily, according to the results of a recent audit. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: March 13, 2014 6:15AM
ALGONQUIN — With nearly 120 square miles within its boundaries, Community Unit School District 300’s system for transporting roughly 16,000 students daily is strong and exceeds state and federal standards, according to an independent auditor.
TransitPro Logistics of Chicago was hired by District 300 after questions were raised by parents about the safety of students who ride buses. TransitPro studied the internal and external workings of the district’s transportation system and its partnership with bus contractor Durham School Services to ensure best practices are being used as well as looking for places for improvement, district officials said.
“You have a strong transport system in your district,” said Todd Zoellick, president of TransitPro. “You should be pleased with your partnership.”
In 2007, District 300 contracted with Durham School Services to provide transportation services, including routing, bus driver staffing, incident response, report preparation and storage, fleet maintenance and on-site management staffing. The majority of the vehicles are owned by District 300, although Durham owns about 20.
Zoellick said his company went over maintenance schedules for the bus fleet for the last five years and found that the district exceeds state and federal standards. He does not recommend changing a thing.
Where he does make suggestions are in the areas of file storage and student tracking.
Zoellick said that up until now, incident reports were only filed as hard copies with Durham. He suggested electronic copies be filed on a secure school district server where they can be easily accessed. That process already has been started.
The consultant also suggested district could tap into features of the Zonar system on the buses that the district does not currently use. Zoellick said with the swipe of a student ID, the district can track when and where students are getting on and off vehicles in real time. This could be particularly beneficial to the school district when seeking reimbursement of transportation costs through Medicaid.
Safety and operational issued were raised over the bus compounds.
Because of the vast area of the school district covers, transportation is divided into three bus compounds: Carpentersville, Bunker Hill and Hampshire. Only the first two have compound managers, and TransitPro recommends a manager be assigned to the compound. Zoellick said that without a manager, there are increased risks of serious safety and operational problems arising at the compound.
He added that because only 10 vehicles are housed in Hampshire, it may be inefficient for a separate manager to be assigned there, so the recommendation is to move the vehicles to another compound.
When it comes to staffing, all but one transportation job is handled by Durham, and that one district employee is the director of transportation. Because of the scope of responsibility of that position, TransitPro is suggesting the district hire a supervisor to share responsibilities and assist in daily operations so there is more than one District 300 employee with transportation management authority.
TransitPro also suggests that a member of the district staff respond to all crashes or incidents involving a district vehicle. Right now, district staff only responds when students are involved.
Zoellick also suggested the district promote the use of the “safety hotline” button on the district mobile app for transportation-related issues, and expand the use of behavior specialists to address incidents that occur with students on their rides to and from school.