Buses a bust on Gary’s first day
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3154 August 15, 2012 5:34PM
Busing is provided only for children in grades K-6 who live a mile or more from school and for children in grades 7-12 who live 2 miles or more from school. Everyone who lives within 1 mile in elementary or
2 miles in middle and high school must walk.
The zones are detailed on the school district’s website, www.garycsc.k12.in.us/.
Updated: September 17, 2012 1:05PM
GARY — New busing rules and a lack of buses plagued the first day of school Wednesday for Gary Community School Corp. students.
Confused principals and parents called the school district’s transportation office when buses didn’t show up and students didn’t arrive for school.
Bus routes weren’t announced until the last minute along with school start and dismissal times. Some parents brought concerns to the School Board Tuesday.
School spokeswoman Sarita Stevens said the board had to slash its transportation budget from about $16 million to $7 or $8 million and as a result, it decided to follow federal “walk zone” guidelines that call for kids to walk to school if they live less than 1 mile in elementary and 2 miles in middle and high school.
Stevens said there is “curb to curb” service for special needs students and she said there were problems with that bus service, as well, on Wednesday.
“In some cases, students just missed the bus,” Stevens said.
Marquette Elementary parent Jason Arndt said his third-grade daughter waited at the bus stop, but never got picked up. When he called the transportation office for information, he said he couldn’t get through to the department.
Stevens said the problems would be adjusted within three or four days.
Meanwhile at the Roosevelt College and Career Academy, one bus didn’t arrive until 9:30 a.m., two hours after the 7:30 a.m. start.
Todd McIntire, vice president of operations for EdisonLearning Inc., the takeover operator of the school, said a state law calls for the school district to provide transportation.
“We’re not allowed to run our own program,” said McIntire. “We’re having difficulty getting information about the routes,” he said.
The school district and EdisonLearning are still negotiating a shared services agreement. Last month, McIntire said a judge ordered the district to provide student records and transportation.
“We are collecting the data now; if we have to go back to the judge, we will.”