Local News

Bus route changes spark criticism to District 161 board

As the school year opened in Flossmoor School District 161, parents came forward with complaints about bus service.
At Monday’s committee of the whole meeting, school board members heard from three parents who were critical of bus service during the first week of school.
Most of the attention was on Bus 36 serving Western Avenue School. The criticisms were about numerous route changes, with one parent saying, “these issues are not new.” 
Another parent said he and his wife projected an “under-over” on how many route changes there would be in the first week.
“There have been four route changes so far,” the parent said. “It’s almost funny.”
He added that his concerns are not “a significant ask.”
“Can we get the bus routes right?” the parent said. “We’re not trying to create problems but it’s frustrating for us.”
Superintendent Dana Smith said he rode Bus 36 on Aug. 24, the first day of school.
He told the parents, “there’s nothing I can say now that will fix it” but pledged to work with the bus company to address the issues. 
In other business, Smith outlined his recommendation to the board on an adjustment of District 161’s lineup of legal firms.
Smith’s recommendation calls for the district to add legal support of special education to the various other legal services provided by the law firm of Scariano, Himes and Petrarca. The Scariano firm already advises District 161 in areas such as board policy, board inquiries, residency, FOIA, personnel, finance, students, the Flossmoor Education Association, negotiations and contracts.
Currently, the law firm of Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn advises the district on special education matters.
Smith said the administration is “looking to consolidation” and to improve responsiveness when special education matters arise.
A third law firm, Hauser, Izzo, LLC, provides legal guidance in finance and with property tax appeals.
The board also heard a recommendation to add language to the school’s calendar for 2017-18. The request came from the village of Flossmoor to add “day of service” to the listing of the Martin Luther King Holiday on Jan. 15, 2018.
Smith said the village’s request is aimed at promoting local service activities held that day, adding that day of service participation “is something we’ve done in the past.”
The board will formally consider the action at its next meeting on Sept. 11.

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