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CSI provides bus service to Wisconsin students

LaToyJones Joseph Owens both Racine Wis. are among first students take advantage free bus service being provided from Racine KenoshComputer

LaToya Jones and Joseph Owens, both of Racine, Wis., are among the first students to take advantage of the free bus service being provided from Racine and Kenosha to the Computer Systems Institute in Gurnee. | Jim Newton~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 29, 2013 2:17AM

If you drive them, will they come?

Computer Systems Institute of Gurnee is betting the answer is yes. In a calculated gamble, the school is offering a new, free bus service to students in Racine and Kenosha, Wis.

The service began Monday, July 29, and so far seven students are boarding the school bus each day. School officials expect those numbers to grow, and to open up the school’s computer, business and healthcare programs to Southern Wisconsin students.

“We decided to take a leap of faith and go for the bus,” said CSI president Megan McCracken, who said a field representative for the school indicated that interest in its courses was strong in Kenosha and Racine, but that the cost and time involved in getting to the school and back on public transportation was prohibitive.

“We were getting a lot inquiries from people in Racine and Kenosha, but they had no way to get here,” McCracken said.

Some of the initial high-school graduates using the service say they hope it will be the first step toward a better job and life.

“Where I come from, it’s tough. In Racine, everyone is just saying ‘when is this city going to get on it’s feet? Where are the jobs?,’” said Joseph Owens, 24, who began classes this week in his quest to become an IT specialist.

“I’m pretty good with computers, I just don’t know how to put them together and disassemble them,” he said.

Owens said he wouldn’t be able to attend CSI without the bus service. “I could do it, but it would break my pocket. It would be like 20 bucks to get here and back.”

LaToya Jones, a 20-year-old from Racine starting classes to become certified as a medical assistant, said the bus was also key to her decision to attend.

“I started because of the service,” she said. “Yesterday was my first time. It’s not bad at all.”

The bus leaves Racine and then Kenosha in time to get students to the Gurnee school at 8:45 a.m., and takes them back at 1:15 p.m. The ride is about a half hour to Kenosha and 45 minutes to Racine.

By contrast, CSI Director of Admissions Michael Thornber said most residents of those cities would need to take a bus, then a Metra train and then another bus to get to and from the school on public transportation.

CSI currently has an average student population of about 275 for its eight-month programs.

New classes start and existing classes graduate every two weeks. It offers training in both clinical and administrative healthcare, computer network and IT careers and business careers.

The school boasts a minimum career placement rate of 70 percent for its graduates and provides on-site accreditation testing as part of its programs.

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