DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — DISD gave its inaugural attempt at running its own bus service after a failing grade last year.
“We’ve been late in picking up students, we have not picked up some students that needed to have been picked up,” said Superintendent Michael Hinojosa during a mea culpa last fall. “We need to get those issues resolved.”
With the new school year getting underway on Monday, those tasked with making improvements aren’t promising perfection, but insist that the district is better prepared and will do better — especially in the areas of communication and customer service.
“Last year was a large learning curve for us,” Deputy Superintendent for Operations Scott Layne said. “Our call center has been drastically upgraded, we’ve hired more people. We have to generate tickets to make sure we take care of all of the tickets that come in. We’ve also given staff access to GPS so they can answer questions from parents on where the bus is at.”
Better yet, the district is rolling out new mobile apps that will allow parents to access that information themselves, in real time.
“One is called ‘My Stop’,” Layne said. “Parents will be able to go in and see the bus on the bus route, see if the bus is on time or delayed, on the phone. I will warn, though, it only activates 10 minutes prior to the bus starting. People would much rather be able to track things on the phone, rather than make a phone call.”
DISD parent Deborah Fry says she will definitely download those apps.
“That will be good. So, when it’s raining, the child doesn’t have to stand there and be wondering: ‘Where is it? Where is it? Where is it?'”
Fry agreed that the bus service got off to a rocky start; but, says she could see improvements throughout the last school year and hopes they continue.
“It was getting better, yes, I think they were on the right track,” she said.
Meanwhile, the teenager in the house admitted that he can’t blame every missed bus on the district.
“I was up late and I overslept,” 9th grade student Jyvean Branch confessed. But he immediately reconsidered and said when he was trying to make it on time, the bus wasn’t there.
District staffers are encouraging parents to make sure students have been re-enrolled prior to the start of class on Monday and to download the apps available on the transportation link of the district’s website.
Call center staffers will also be available from 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday and starting at 5:30 a.m. Monday morning.