Gary school officials to get front seat view of bus issues
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org/648-3154 September 17, 2012 4:52PM
Students exit school buses as they arrive for school at West Side Leadership Academy in Gary, Ind. Monday September 17, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
If you go
The Gary Community School Corp. is holding its final public parent forum at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Jefferson Elementary, 601 Jefferson St. Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt and other school officials are expected to attend.
Updated: October 19, 2012 6:12AM
GARY — About 30 school administrators including Gary Community School Corp. Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt will board school buses Tuesday morning to get a first-hand look at bus transportation.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Education said Monday it’s monitoring the situation in Gary on a daily basis to ensure students make it to school safely and on time.
Since school began Aug. 15, parents have complained that buses haven’t shown up or they haven’t received accurate information about bus routes their children should be using.
Yoti Kale, a Glen Park parent whose son attends the Banneker Achievement Academy in Miller, said she received a robo call from the district on Sunday telling her to check her child’s bus route status on a school website.
“I got on the computer and tried for two hours and couldn’t get information,” she said.
Frustrated, she sent an email to State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Bennett, detailing her problems. She received a response from Michael A. LaRocco, the DOE’s director of transportation. He said he wouldd contact the district on her behalf.
When she was finally able to log into the site, it said her son attends the Lew Wallace STEM Academy and should walk to school.
On Monday, she said her son found a bus that takes him to Banneker and one that drops him off at his house in the afternoon. He apparently isn’t yet entered in the school district’s bus data base.
“It shouldn’t be this hard to get your child to school,” said Kale.
Parent Lunette Woods-Lewis lives on the west side of the city and the bus didn’t show up Monday morning to pick up her 6-year-old daughter, a Banneker first-grader. She said her daughter got a ride from a family member, but was late to school.
“Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s still very inconsistent.”
Woods-Lewis said her son, a freshman at Gary New Tech, rode a bus for a few days, but in the last week or so that bus hasn’t shown up.
“The problem is nowhere near being fixed,” she said. “You can evaluate it all you want. We just need them to come to the stop on time.”
On Saturday, school officials and bus provider Illinois Central said they are making sure every student is on a bus route list and that drivers will check students’ names as they board.
In an effort to stem a budget deficit, the district slashed its transportation budget this year, reducing the number of buses from 158 to 60. Illinois Central also said it found many students had not been placed in the district’s bus data system.