Forums aim to erase Gary school bus debacle
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent August 6, 2013 10:10PM
School buses are parked at the bus barn in the Miller section of Gary, Ind. where Illinois Central Bus Co. acquired 15 more buses for the Gary School Corporation routes Friday October 26, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Who to call
Anyone who has transportation issues this year should contact GCSC Transportation Coordinator Milton Patch at 881-5425 or Jamaal Washington of Illinois Central at 614-0523.
Updated: September 8, 2013 6:23AM
GARY — Gary Community School Corp. is confident it will have its transportation issues sorted out for the start of school, but parents will have to do their part as well.
Parents will need to make sure the information the school corporation has on file is current, Transportation Coordinator Milton Patch said at Wirt-Emerson School for the Visual and Performing Arts during the first of two forums to be held on busing. School representatives passed out forms for parents to update, and those forms will be passed out during each school’s meet-and-greets in the next couple of weeks.
Patch further acknowledged that last year, information updates weren’t always made in the most timely manner. This year, that will change.
“We were transferring our information through two systems that weren’t talking to each other,” he said. “We’ve also spoken to the secretaries, and changes will now be made on the spot.
“It’s important we get the information and communicate.”
High school and middle school students remain ineligible for bus service if they’re within 2 miles of their school, and elementary students within 1 mile, Patch said. Special needs students are the exception.
Kizzie Wade, who has three children going to three schools, said she’s confident it will work out better than last year, when it took the school district and vendor Illinois Central until November to get the routes and drop-off points straight. Last year, her 6-year-old son was dropped off at a place nowhere near their home.
“If parents cooperate and fill out the forms, I think it’ll be better,” she said. “They’re going to double-check things this time.”
Another parent, who declined to give her name, isn’t as confident.
“If it took them until November to sort things out, it’s not going to work. They need at least two years,” she said. “But at least I can drive my kids.”
The school district will hold a second transportation forum at 6 p.m. Friday at West Side Leadership Academy.