GENEVA — After passing a new levy last year, Geneva Area City Schools started the 2019-20 with a return to full busing.
On Jan. 16, 2018, the Geneva Area City Schools moved to state minimum busing to help with a budget shortfall. When busing was reduced, the district went from 19 buses running every day to 11 a.m., Superintendent Eric Kujala said at the time.
An income tax levy was passed by Geneva voters in 2018. Earlier in 2019, the district announced that full busing would make a come back in the 2019-20 school year.
Earlier this month, a .85-mill permanent improvement levy passed, 1,921 votes to 1,773 according to preliminary election results.
The levy is used for purchasing buses amongst other things.
“Even with full transportation restored we have had several issues that we have needed to address through the first few months of the school year. As normal, adjustments needed to be made for the pick-up and drop-off times for some of our students. This is usually difficult at the beginning of the year but most routes have been adjusted,” Kujala said.
Illnesses have cropped up that have caused some routes to go unfilled, Kujala said.
“Our transportation supervisor has made adjustments to add additional students on specific routes. At times it has been necessary for our transportation supervisor to drive a morning or afternoon bus. This limits communication with parents or schools when there is not someone readily available at the bus garage and office,” he added.
Kujala said 350 students were affected by the reduction in busing in 2018.
“Reducing transportation was a very difficult, but necessary, decision for the district. We know that it put additional burdens on our families and we appreciate their support through a very stressful time,” Kujala said.
At the time of the reduction, driving passes for high school students increased.
The school issued 26 new parking passes for students after transportation was cut, the school said at the time.
“We truly appreciate the job that our bus drivers do each and every day. Regardless of the conditions or other unpredictable items they may face daily, the Geneva School bus drivers do their best to make sure our students arrive safely to and from school each day. Not having full transportation and limiting certain educational field trips and activities was difficult,” Kujala said.
The problems of having state minimum transportation are in the past now and after the passage of the permanent improvement levy, the district can breathe easy.
“I believe overall the community has been very positive with the return of full transportation this year. We have experienced some issues and made changes as the year has progressed. The district appreciates the communities support and understanding as we have needed to make changes due to driver shortages. ... We have encouraged our parents to view changes on the website or call the transportation information line [466-1000] for additional details and information,” Kujala said.