State Department of Ed steps in to help Gary fix school bus mess
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org/648-3154 September 15, 2012 6:30PM
Gary parents can get bus route information at www.garycsc.k12.in.us. Click on bus transportation under Quick Links and then bus routes. Parents should log in on the Versatrans site as “guest” and use the same password to find out their child’s bus routing number or if their child is in the routing system. If they’re not in the system, parents should contact the school.
Updated: October 17, 2012 6:50AM
GARY — The Indiana Department of Education has intervened to resolve continuing school bus problems plaguing Gary Community School Corp.
Transportation consultants from the state met with Gary officials and representatives from Illinois Central Bus Co. on Friday to correct monthlong problems with bus routes. Parents have complained since the beginning of school on Aug. 15 that their children weren’t being picked up for school at their designated routes.
The state told the district and Illinois Central that bus drivers should have a list of children’s names for each route.
School spokeswoman Sarita Stevens said Saturday that parents must be sure their child’s name is on an assigned bus list. Stevens said parents with Internet access can go the district’s website — www.garycsc.k12.in.us/ — and click on the link for transportation under Quick Links on the page’s left side. They should log in as “guest” and follow the prompts. Parents without Internet access should contact their child’s school to make sure they’re on a bus list.
Stevens and Jamal Washington, of Illinois Central, said bus drivers will check off a student’s name each day as they board the bus. Stevens said the state advised the district that it’s the best practice for safety and accountability.
“Illinois Central and the school corporation are working aggressively to fix the problem,” Washington said.
Students who aren’t on the bus list won’t be permitted to get on the bus.
Washington said a lot of students’ names haven’t been added to the system yet and that’s led to the confusion he expects to be resolved soon.
Stevens said the district’s new contract with the Gary Public Transit Corp. that allows secondary students to ride city buses to school for free should also ease the busing crisis. That pilot program began Friday.
The school district said Thursday it hopes to return to last year’s busing format. This year’s schedule has high school students starting school as late at 9:15 a.m. with dismissal at 4:15 p.m. That’s made it difficult to participate in extracurricular activities.