CCSD21 and First Student extended their pupil transportation services agreement for the 2023-2024 school year at an increased rate of 10.5% over the 2022-2023 school term.
While the new terms remain below similar increases for First Student clients throughout the area, as well as clients of other transportation providers in neighboring school districts, this increase is meant to cover driver, mechanic and administration salary increases based upon current market rates.
The increase will also cover a number of technological enhancements, including a complete overhaul of the camera and monitoring system on each First Student bus. Micheal DeBartolo, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, said this new system will allow the district to pull footage and review incidence of driver and student behavior more efficiently so it is able to respond to parent questions and concerns as well as make decisions regarding student behavior in a timely manner as needed.
Other enhancements include the FirstView system, which allows administrators to track bus location and route running. This system includes an app that parents will be privy to once the testing phase is complete that will be able to relay information, such as bus location. DeBartolo said iPads have also been added for route drivers and, once the testing is completed, these devices will be able to make routes on the way home more efficient based on who is there. For instance, if a student is absent that day and is the only one dropped off at a specific location, the system would be able to tell the driver to skip that stop. Or if there is traffic congestion or an accident, it might be possible to reroute the bus to avoid that area.
Eventually, as part of the partnership, the district is also hoping to implement swipe cards that would track when students get on or off, giving the district more information to improve route performance.