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Dateline Dixon: Keeping parents in the loop

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 2:49 p.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 2:52 p.m. CST

DIXON – Not every problem can be foreseen, so not every solution can be readily available.

Last Friday, a school bus ran about an hour late. Two people posted about it on our Facebook page and wanted to know why Dixon Public Schools or the bus company didn't notify them.

There are a couple issues at play in this. First, the bus was running late because both railroad crossings near the Woodland Shores subdivision were blocked, said Dave Blackburn, an official with the Dixon Public Schools.

There was work being done to the railroad, he said, so the bus' primary and backup routes were blocked.

Another issue at play is that it was just the one bus that was affected, Blackburn said, and that bus was headed to pick up 15 to 20 students.

This was a problem the school district never anticipated. As a result, it didn't have a great solution.

Blackburn admitted the district and an Illinois Central School bus were taking a reactive approach to what happened, when they would have preferred to be proactive. But they're also taking steps to be proactive in the future, he said.

When the district found out about the late bus, it also found out that a parent was allowing students to wait in their home rather than outside.

At the time, the district didn't have a database set up for the specific bus route affected. So if it wanted to send an alert, it would have gone to every parent of a Dixon Public Schools student who has signed up for the alerts.

That's a problem that the district has fixed, Blackburn said, by setting up a specific database for that bus route and those 15 to 20 students.

Other databases for rural routes may also be set up, he said.

SVM reporter at Books on First

Sauk Valley Media reporter Matt Mencarini will have "office hours" from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday at Books on First, 202 W. First St.

Feel free to stop by and let him know what's on your mind. Is there a story in Dixon you think should be reported? Stop by to share or just to say hi.

Sauk Valley Media reporter Matt Mencarini covers government and happenings in Dixon. He can be reached at mmencarini@saukvalley.com or at 815-625-3600, ext. 529. Follow him on twitter: @MattMencarini.

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