GARY | Illinois Central Bus Co. will provide up to 30 additional buses to the Gary Community School Corp. for free to get students to and from school for the remainder of the school year.
Spokesman Jamal Washington said Thursday, there will be a two-tier system, meaning one bus will transport students to two separate schools. "We want to make sure that students are getting to and from school safely," he said.
Washington also said it will not cost the district anything. He said the new system, which will provide transportation to more students, will be effective Oct. 29. That will mean the district will have up to 90 buses on the road. Washington said it also will mean hiring up to 30 new drivers.
Gary Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said administrators will keep a close eye on the ridership. She said she was not necessarily in favor of enforcing the walk policy for students who lived within walking distance of their school. That policy went into effect in 1984 but was not enforced.
"We want to look at the safety factor for our students," Pruitt said. "It's getting dark outside. Everyone who wants transportation can contact the transportation department to make sure that children are on the list if they want transportation."
Pruitt said students who ride the bus also will receive identification that will be scanned into the system, and it also will be free for the school district. The school corporation has said it had $5 million in its bus transportation budget, drastically reduced from the previous year.
Illinois Central's Washington thanked Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson for helping the company by providing space to store the buses. The Gary bus barn is on U.S. 20 in the Miller section of Gary. It also will use space at the Tri-City Plaza on Fifth Avenue in Gary to store additional buses.
Washington encouraged parents to go to the Gary Community School Corp.'s website and access the bus transportation schedule. He also suggested parents contact the school and/or the administration center to make sure their children are on the list to be picked up.
Since the start of the school year, the district had been flooded with hundreds of complaints from angry parents regarding changing routes, buses that pass up students, late bus arrivals and no-shows.