School Busses

With major changes to Union R-XI’s facilities becoming more of a reality with each passing week, the school district is looking to review its transportation program.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Mabe said the audit will be crucial as the district lays out its plans to build a new elementary school and reconfigure Union’s grade structure. He said he hopes the audit’s findings will help improve students’ day-to-day lives.

“We’ve made great strides with food service and verified our technology is on point with an independent audit. So my question is what’s next? Transportation,” Mabe said. “My job is to make sure we’re providing that to students, first and foremost, in an efficient and safe, fiscally responsible manner.”

The school board approved the audit by TransPar Group, which will cost $12,000, Wednesday, Oct. 18. The three-phase audit will look into the day-to-day operations of the district’s bus routes, as well as the routes covered by the Union’s transportation partner, First Student.

The audit is expected to take two to three months and could start as early as this week. Mabe said, along with other important information, he expects the audit to help the district find ways to cut the amount of time students are spending on the bus.

Currently, bus dismissals are staggered to give drivers time to get to each school and pick up waiting students. Mabe said the district’s goal is to have buses waiting on students, not the other way around.

Board President Dr. Virgil Weideman said previous professional audits on the district’s transportation program were beneficial.

“It’s been a number of years since we’ve had a professional look in-depth at our transportation routes,” Weideman said. “It was very beneficial at the time.”

Board member Amy Hall said it was the perfect time to perform an audit, as there will be a need for more information as the district moves forward with its facility plans.

TransPar Group will be providing financial and performance analysis. That will include in-depth looks at route planning and efficiency, dismissal bell times and if adjustments are needed, fleet management and performance, staffing and recommendations going forward.

“By doing this audit, this will ensure our practices are on point, or tell us that we have some things to adjust or evaluate,” Mabe said.

Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold said with the upcoming changes coming to the school district, the time is right to take a hard look at the district’s infrastructure.

“When we’re looking at possibly reconfiguring our grades and possibly adding another building — it’s the perfect time,” Weinhold said. “I think this is next in line to make sure we are on point with everything. It gives an outside person the chance to tell us what we can do better and what we’re doing right.”