Unit 4 finally made good on their promise to return to Shadow Wood after their August 17th meeting (I think that was the last one); a group of residents and a bevy of Unit 4 reps crowded into the Shadow Wood Community Center. Superintendent Dr. Judy Wiegand opened the evening with introductions, joined by Assistant Superintendents Dr. Susan Zola and Dr. Laura Taylor; Barbara Ramsay had two of her Transportation guys there to listen and take notes, ESL Director Maria Alanis was there to do the bulk of the translating, Board Member Ileana Saveley also helped bridge the language obstacles and engage the residents, and Central Assistant Principal Bryan Yacko was there to represent the high school district in which Shadow Wood now resides. Champaign City Council Member Will Kyles also dropped by and addressed the group.
The first order of the night was Transportation and the ongoing issues with buses. It was amazing to witness the interaction; the residents spoke about inconsistent pickup/dropoff times and how some drivers are just rude, and the administrators actively listened, showed concern, and then stated what they are going to do about it. That was the best part; “Ok, I hear what you are saying, this is what we are going to do to fix it.” And so on Monday and Tuesday, the bus that serves Shadow Wood is going to have a tail, checking to see what is going on with the route. The residents suspected that the bus was going to Savoy to drop off one child first, and then coming all the way back north with a 99% full bus. Having just done that exact route myself, I know it takes a while, and I also know it makes absolutely no sense for a bus serving Garden Hills to go to Savoy first for dropoff (for pickup, yes, sure, it makes sense). The folks from the Transportation Department said that should not be happening. But they are going to check. They also mentioned that one of the buses broke recently (I had this picture of a bus literally breaking in half) which might have accounted for some disruption today. What was really good, also, is that Maria explicitly said that if after Tuesday things are still not good, they should call her or Ileana. It was clear that the residents felt very strongly about this – and so they should! The mothers talked about how they have to drop off their kids and get to work, and if the bus is not consistent, they are sometimes late to work. It was equally clear that the Unit 4 staff were very concerned and want to make sure things are right. And this is what I love about this kind of environment – the residents were being empowered. They were encouraged to use their voice (and they did!).
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