The basis for a comprehensive review of the company that buses Community Unit District 300 students -- parental concerns about safety and improperly maintained school buses -- was unfounded, according to a transportation audit revealed Monday.
At the same time, the review found that though the district sets policies within the transportation department, Durham School Services, the busing company, has significant control over transportation procedures.
The resulting 19-page report recommended ways to solve that issue and outlined steps to improve training, communication, data collection and efficiency throughout the system.
The Carpentersville-based district outsources busing service to Durham, an arrangement that has been in place since 2007. On average, the district spends $7.5 million on transportation services with Durham. It handles 16,000 students daily.
The district hired TransitPro Logistics for about $38,000 to conduct the analysis in September after some parents complained about buses they said were improperly maintained and frequently broke down.
The report said an in-depth review of the maintenance department did not support those concerns, as vehicles are inspected every 90 days.
"District 300 and Durham have done an excellent job of maintaining their fleet to ensure the safe transportation of students and drivers," the report said.
Meanwhile, the analysis recommended the district take several courses of action to rectify other matters. Among those suggestions are:
• Hiring a supervisor in the transportation services department to help manage daily operations and share responsibilities. Right now, Transportation Director Donna Bordsen is the only person of authority in the department.
• Dispatching a district staffer to the scene of every related accident.
• Evaluating the training programs with Durham at least once a year to ensure the district's needs are being met.
• Identifying additional behavioral specialists with Durham who can monitor poor student and driver behavior, as well as document and follow up on vehicle incidents -- there are now two.
• Investigating complaints of overcrowded buses with Durham and reassess routes and/or stops if necessary.
• Considering a centralized location for special needs services to minimize transportation time and costs.
• Considering automating the student tracking process for Medicaid reimbursement to cut down on errors and improve efficiencies. Data collection is now done manually.
• Expanding the District 300 app and hotline so students, parents and staffers can use it as a venue to report incidents.
• Hiring a manager for the bus dispatch center in Hampshire.
• Storing incident and accident reports at District 300 so officials have ready access to them.
The analysis reviewed bus routing and scheduling, training among drivers and district personnel, fleet maintenance and inspections, special education and Medicaid reimbursement, safety and security and operations and logistics between the district and Durham.
The audit was conducted through interviews with select staffers and parents.
Bordsen said the district is starting to store the reports at the district -- Durham previously held onto them -- and that the rest of the suggestions are under consideration.
Officials are expected to announce the other recommendations it will implement by the end of the school year, she said.