CARPENTERSVILLE – District 300 will use independent investigators to examine its transportation system after a former bus driver and other parents voiced concerns that buses are poorly maintained and overcrowded.
Hampshire resident Diana Gleason, who drove a district bus for five years before recently retiring, briefly addressed school board members on Monday about the need to make the district’s buses safer for students.
Her daughter, Andrea Krauss, then explained in detail how Gleason’s bus had various malfunctions that had gone unaddressed until last week, when officials at the Carpentersville-based school district and its bus contractor heard rumors that Gleason was planning to address the board and publicly air her concerns.
“I have two children who ride these D-300 buses,” Krauss said. “The lack of maintenance, the lack of communication, the disregard for safety and not wanting any of this to go public really bothers me.”
The Warrenville-based Durham School Services has managed the district’s bus system since 2007.
The district dispatches about 230 buses from buildings in Algonquin, Carpentersville and Hampshire to transport 16,000 students to schools throughout its boundaries.
Gleason’s bus, Krauss said, had a broken intercom system and power steering problems before an accident nearly a month ago with a high school driver broke the front bumper cross gate.
Gleason continued to use the damaged bus for the past month after receiving conflicting orders from Durham officials. She received a replacement bus after being confronted by officials last week and found that the bus had worn brakes and a broken emergency brake, Krauss said.
Algonquin resident Andrea Wagner, who has a child in the district, spoke about persistent overcrowding on the district’s buses. The Jacobs High School tennis and cross country teams both have had difficulty making events on time this year because of numerous bus breakdowns, Wagner said.
“Hopefully, something will be done to rectify the matters addressed before something serious happens,” Wagner said.
In response, Safety Director Gary Chester will work with independent investigators tasked with examining bus routes, scheduling, driver training, communication procedures and vehicle maintenance and inspections, district spokeswoman Allison Strupeck said.
The district didn’t detail when it expects the examination to take place, but Strupeck said the findings would be shared with the public to ensure that “student safety remains our highest priority.”
“We would never knowingly put our children at risk,” Strupeck said. “We take student safety extremely seriously and have decided to ask for an independent, comprehensive review of our transportation system.”