First Student Has Next Move For Unit 5 Contract

Sep 29, 2016

A bus operated by First Student lines up at dismissal time at Unit Five's Coleen Hoose school
Credit Emma Shores / WGLT

Unit 5 Schools is giving bus contractor First Student one month to prove they are reliable.  The school board voted last night to give the company a November 1 extension to fix transportation problems that have plagued the company since the beginning of the school year.  If First Student declines, Unit 5 will terminate the contract for the 2017-2018 school year. 

Unit 5 Superintendent Mark Daniel says First Student needs to earn public trust back.

"They expect to see major improvement in regards to late buses and adequate number of drivers," said Daniel. "That would allow First Student to continue their contract." 

The original contract stated either party could opt out of the next year's contract by giving notification by October 1.  The board voted 6-1 to extend that deadline by a month.  First Student asked for a December 1 extension.

Daniel said he has already been in contact with local bus vendors that are interested in working for Unit 5 next year. 

"I think there are a lot of positive things happening, but bottom line is we need short-term fixes," said Daniel. "Although we hear long-term solutions, short-term means we need to get our kids to school on time."

Even if Unit 5 terminates the contract, First Student will still be driving buses for the schools until June 30, 2017.