Oct 09, 2013

Partnering with First Student Allows Vandalia-Butler Schools to Expand Busing

Vandalia-Butler Schools to expand busing for Smith, Morton
Expansion comes at no cost to district budget

VANDALIA — Savings attained by contracting transportation services to First Student, Inc., will enable Vandalia-Butler City Schools to offer a limited expansion of busing starting next week, the Board of Education announced on October 8.

Busing will be expanded for some Smith and Morton middle school students in several neighborhoods that are within the two-mile no-transportation zone. The change will be made at no additional cost to the school district through the use of “group stops.” Parents of students who qualify for the expanded busing will be notified by postal mail this week.

“Through our community outreach efforts, I have heard from parents and community members who are concerned about students walking in areas that do not have sidewalks. To further compound the problem, there are more cars transporting students to and from our schools every day,” said Superintendent Bradley Neavin. “Recognizing that this a serious safety issue, we asked First Student to sit down with us and devise solutions that are within our budget.”

Board of Education President Bud Zupp spoke in favor of the strategy. “Our community has spoken, and we are listening. This is a smart approach that will enhance safety, and we are impressed with how well First Student and our administrative team partnered to devise this solution.”

The district reduced transportation to state minimums last year as part of a series of across-the-board cuts prompted by a steep drop in state and local funding. Currently, transportation is provided only to K-8 students who live beyond a two-mile radius from their schools.

Neavin noted that the partnership with First Student makes all of this possible at no additional cost to the district.

“Our district has made cuts down to the bone, and there's absolutely no wiggle room,” Neavin said. “This wouldn't be an option for us if we hadn't contracted out our transportation services.”

The Board of Education approved a five-year contract with Cincinnati-based First Student in August for an anticipated savings of $1.4 million. Neavin noted that, thus far, he's been pleased with the service provided by First Student.

“They are responsive to our needs and they take great care of our students,” Neavin said. “Everything has been running smoothly. We wouldn't expect—or accept—anything less.”

Parents with questions about the expansion in busing are welcome to contact Director of Pupil Services Robert O'Leary at 415-6431.