The first week back to school has been rocky for some families of students attending Salt Creek Elementary District 48.
Some students who ride a bus to get to Salt Creek Primary School in Elmhurst, Stella May Swartz School in Oakbrook Terrace and Albright Middle School in Villa Park have been left waiting at the bus stop in the morning, or have been dropped off at home up to 30 minutes late in the afternoon, according to parents.
District 48 Superintendent John Correll said the district uses Westway Coach/Richlee Vans, and this is the district's fourth year with the company. He said he doesn't want to speculate on why a bus company that is not new to the district would be having so much trouble, but he is "very disappointed."
"It has severely impacted the operation of our school district the first week back," he said by email. "We are a small, three-building district within 2 1/2 square miles, and would think that they would be able to handle our busing easily."
Elmhurst Patch contacted Westway Coach, Villa Park, and asked for Operations Manager Teri Flanagan, who is listed on the website, but we were told Flanagan is no longer with the company.
Manager Brian Riegler declined comment and said he would pass along our inquiry to Tony Benish, general counsel for the company. He declined to release Benish's phone number; Benish has not yet responded.
In the meantime, parents are referring to this as a "big problem." Jennifer MacKenzie said. She said an "emergency School Board meeting" was held Thursday night to discuss the matter. MacKenzie said she no longer has children in elementary school, but she has been in communication with parents who have been late to work this week because the buses are not showing up on time.
On Friday, she said she heard of one bus that showed up much too early.
"Parents and police are doing sweeps to make sure everyone has been picked up," MacKenzie said via Facebook. "Even today, after the meeting last night, a mom posted that the bus was about 15 minutes earlier than it was supposed to be."
She said the problem extends to students in District 45, which includes Lombard and Villa Park, as well.
An announcement posted Thursday on the District 48 website states the problems are related to "location of specific bus stops, the efficiency of the routes the buses take and the timeliness of the routes."
"While things have improved slightly throughout the week, they are still not nearly as smooth as we want them to be. … We are working hard to correct the concerns and very quickly get to a predictable, timely bus schedule. Thank you for your patience," the statement reads.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
Does your child ride a bus in District 48? We invite you to share your experiences during this first week of school in the comments below.