DANVILLE — Teachers and staff welcomed students back to traditional schedule schools in Danville District 118 last week, returning to normal after years of COVID-19.
But it was a rough start for bus transportation for students.
Deputy Superintendent of Elementary Education John Hart told the school board Wednesday evening that “transportation has been difficult at best.”
There was a new routing system, an electronic platform that is not made locally, but through First Student with First Planning Solutions in Montana.
“It was supposed to be useful. It was very difficult,” Hart said.
In addition to bus misrouting, there have also been problems with late buses and students being dropped off at some dangerous crossings.
Concerns have been brought to First Student’s attention, and fixes are forthcoming, Hart said, adding that he had contact with the bus garage 20 to 25 times a day due to issues.
“I feel like we’re moving forward,” he said.
School board member Johnnie Carey said as a preschool grandma a bus did not pick up her preschool grandson in the morning and in the afternoon the bus driver stopped at the around the corner and went to a wrong house. She was also upset that the bus driver didn’t ask for her name or ID when he dropped off her grandchild.
First Student bus service area general manager Chris Coyle said asking for ID for young students is protocol.
Coyle said the bus system is not perfect and there are still lessons to be learned.
In the long run, he said this was the right way to go with bus routing technology. They are dedicated to solving it. He likened the situation to a headache and the need to continually add new students, stops and data. It takes time, he says.
Superintendent Alicia Geddis said it should also be common sense for bus drivers. Students crossing Main Street should not arrive, she said, adding that students should be picked up and dropped off on the same side of the street.
Coyle also told the school board that there are currently about seven bus drivers short, four of whom are currently being tested. There were delays in fingerprinting, he added.
He said major routing security issues are addressed immediately. Roadmaps will continue to be updated and issues fixed.
The school board also heard updates from the D118 department, including on buildings and grounds and building safety.
HVAC and other work continues in some buildings. Tuck pointing to Edison will be done after school hours.
Hart said Garfield’s reassignment is not a priority at this time, but the old school building is used by the program, grants, food services, buildings and grounds, and more.
Metal detectors are now in use at Danville High School.
Deputy Superintendent of Secondary Education Beth Yacobi said the focus has been on school safety.
State-of-the-art weapon detection equipment determines different metals and shapes also trigger it, she said.
Students must take their Chromebook laptops out of their see-through backpacks to pass through the detectors. The detectors are portable and will be present at football games and other events. Two sets each are now at the entrances to the Clock Tower and DHS Circular Drive.
School board member Darlene Halloran said she heard the students’ three-ring binders set off the metal detectors.
Yacobi said they can adjust the detector sensitivities. If something triggers the detector, there is a red light and a secondary wand is performed.
Other security changes: restricting employee access to only the buildings to which they are assigned and limiting access hours; require employees to enter and exit buildings in the event of an emergency evacuation and know who is in the buildings; new systems for accessing teachers’ interior doors; locked doors; and driver’s license background checks for the public at all schools.
There are also new and more video cameras at DHS, and personnel will undergo active shooter training on September 2.
Buildings and grounds also reported new furniture, including approximately 1,294 new student desks at DHS, 685 at North Ridge and 630 at South View.
In other cases, the school board has approved:
- A $419,000 contract with Track Surfaces Co. of Elburn to resurface the all-weather track at the DHS Training Grounds across from the DHS. Buildings and Grounds Manager Skip Truex said they have low spots that trap water and there are a lot of tripping hazards on the track. The resurfacing should last about 20 years.
- Public posting of the school district’s new 2022-2023 budget. He estimates revenues at $92.54 million and expenses at $93.99 million. The deficit budget is an increase from last year, when it showed $89.07 million in expenses and $84 million in revenue. Revenue is budgeted at around 95% of the new budget estimates. Expenses include additional DHS 1972 renovations and ESSER-funded HVAC projects. The fund balance at the end of fiscal year 2022 (pre-audit) is $38.86 million, approximately $5 million higher than planned due to the collection of nearly double the funding from the CPPRT ( business personal property replacement tax).
- Renewed property and commercial liability insurance with Liberty Mutual Insurance for $310,063, an increase of $28,630 from last year due to continued claims activity, increased building values and rising construction costs.
- Updated the seventh and eighth grade Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum to temporarily replace the Lead the Way project in North Ridge due to staffing issues.
- DHS Career and Technical Education Courses: Introduction to Family and Consumer Sciences, Food 1, and Child Development.
- Replacement of junior dual-enrollment English courses in Literature.
- State curriculum mandates on the scope and sequences of inclusion of Asian history and media literacy.