New bus company manager: I'll address any concerns
WORTHINGTON -- Jeff Knuston sees himself as a problem-solver, and that's probably a good thing given the proximity of the first day of school.
Knutson, the new terminal manager for American Student Transportation, which buses District 518 pupils, said he's heard no shortage of concerns about busing as the school year has drawn closer, adding that he's eager to -- and will continue to -- address any issues brought before him.
"Starting as of last weekend, when I was at Worthington Middle School, I heard all the concerns," Knutson said Wednesday afternoon. "Through Sunday, I had addressed 164 concerned parents with kids.... The concerns had to do with anything from too early of a bus stop to a changed bus stop or too late of a bus stop."
Concerns can be a result of any number of factors, Knutson added. In several cases, students' names were mistakenly omitted from a computer system, and on one occasion an address in the system was more than five years old, he said.
A computer glitch was also responsible for errors in pickup times, Knutson added.
"We had some getting picked up at 5:45 a.m., and that's simply impossible," he said. "District students are allowed 65 minutes on bus, maximum."
The reason for such a standard, Knutson explained, is safety. And, given the maximum time limit and the fact that students can't be dropped at district schools before set times, adjustments had to be made.
"We knew it was a problem when it was pointed out at the middle school," Knutson said. "We knew there were too early times. All of that is being addressed, since last Wednesday."
Knutson noted he was also at an open house at Worthington Christian School Tuesday night working through numerous concerns.
He will also be at open house events Monday and Tuesday at Prairie Elementary to field questions.
In some instances, he said, bus stops have been changed -- but with safety reasons in mind.
"In Wilmont, for instance, a computer generates a stop for the most optimum number of kids to get off at, but it's actually been moved back one block because it's a safer stop. That's what I've recommended -- if there's a safer spot to do it, we'll do it," Knustson explained.
By state law, he continued, bus drivers are not allowed to change bus stops. If a stop needs attention, concerned individuals must call the bus garage, and the proposal will be considered though proper channels.
Knutson said he can be called "seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year" with comments and questions at (507) 350-9437. The number at the bus garage is 343-2000.
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