District 118 Board Votes Down First Student; For now

ABOVE: Asst. District 118 Superintendent John Hart (left) listens as First Student representatives present their case to the District 118 Board of Directors.

A motion before the Danville District 118 Board Wednesday night (Feb. 1) to retain First Student Services as the district’s transportation provider was defeated 5-2. CEO Dr. Randal Ashton and Darlene Halloran voted yes, everyone else voted no. First Student was the lowest of the two bids received, the other came from North American Central of Joliet.

Five First Student representatives were on hand and board member Johnnie Carey said afterwards ‘with all the issues and complaints from parents they’ve had this year, it’s just not enough to talk about driver shortages and promise things will get better’ Vote by her now.

Danville District 118 board members Christopher Easton, Johnnie Carey and Shannon Schroeder take turns speaking before the vote rejects First Student’s current offer to continue offering bus transportation.

AUDIO: Even from what they promised us in first semester; if you can do it You know, your communication is better to let the parents know, like I said. That’s all I’m asking is that you improve so next year when we go in we already know where we are.

Superintendent Dr. Alicia Geddis mentioned that she had asked for a First Student planning exam and hadn’t received one; because some buses are currently overcrowded while others only have four or five students.

Superintendent Dr. Alicia Geddis and CEO Dr. Randal Ashton each comment on the First Student’s situation.

Then there’s the problem of First Student using his buses for other customers while obscuring the Danville 118 signs on them. First student says; No, they do not use district-bought gasoline for these excursions. But dr Geddis says she asked for an exam for eight years; and Board Member Christopher Easton agreed that more information was needed. He says yes, there will be challenges in a large district. But he wants measurable goals to be set and achieved.

AUDIO: I just think oversight is really important. As a board member, I just didn’t feel like some of the questions we asked were answered. (There are) many anecdotal stories of parents; many things are not going well.

So now it starts all over again; and dr Geddis says if First Student comes back with the lowest bid and some new proposals, then school code says they have to take that into account. If they didn’t, there would likely be legal action and major complications.

AUDIO: We would then have to go through the process of proving that they are not responsible. That’s often difficult in this climate where buses are scarce because they can certainly show how many challenges the other company has.

dr Geddis says the board simply has to make a decision by July 1, when First Student’s current contract expires.

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