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Busing Problems Accompany First Week of School at Plymouth-Canton

Parent reports missed routes, late pick-ups and drop-offs in first seven days of school.

The start to the school year at schools has been bumpy for parents of students who take the bus to school.

The Plymouth-Canton Board of Education discussed at its Tuesday meeting a series of problems with contracted bus drivers from Michigan Educational Transportation Services (METS) in the first week of the school year.

The problems were brought to the board by parent Melissa Uhl, who reported missed pickups on the first two days of school, a kindergarten student being dropped off at the wrong bus stop, late pick-ups and drop-offs and a rotating door of substitute bus drivers in the first seven days of the school year.

Uhl said because of the missed routes and late pick-ups, she has driven her children to school on four of the first seven days.

Phil Freeman, assistant superintendent of facilities and operations, said the district has struggled with keeping a full stable of bus drivers because of more competitive wages and benefits elsewhere.

“As the economy gets better, opportunities for drivers begin opening up,” he said. Freeman noted the district saw about a 25 percent turnover in drivers from last year.

“We’re paying a wage that’s lower than it should be,” Freeman said.

The specific driver assigned to the Uhls’ route, however, has been on medical leave, prompting a series of substitute drivers to fill in his route.

“We’re getting people on the road later than we’d like to without the practice we’d like to have,” Freeman said.

Board member Mark Horvath said whatever the cause may be for the busing issues, he wants to ensure it never happens again.

“Busing is a huge part of what we do, a huge part of our competitive edge,” Horvath said. “I don’t want to hear (that) this is a part of doing business.”

Freeman said the problem isn’t exclusive to Plymouth-Canton — he said similar situations have been common throughout Wayne County and in Washtenaw County.

Plymouth-Canton after switching from its in-house busing service to third-party busing to save money. Parents of special education students expressed concern at the time about the new bus drivers’ accommodations for their students.

Freeman said the district is working with METS to resolve the complaints.

Board President John Barrett called for a report on the cause and corrective action plan for the administration to deliver to the board for its next meeting.

Robin Moore September 13, 2012 at 01:35 AM
I agree with Deborah Matthews, considering she is somebody I used to work with. We were never and are never allowed to even think about going to a restuarant like that, because if we did, we would be held accountable for the damage, and would be fired on the spot. A lot of parents don't realize, that this district, the board office people don't give two hoots and a holler about the kids in this district. That's why they are throwing privatizing everything in people's faces. They want to privatize transportation, they want to privatize custodial, they want to privatize teachers, cafertaria workers, crossing guards. You get the point. As long as they get that green stuff going into their pockets, that is quite alright to privatize everybody. And guess what, after they privatize everybody that is in the school system, it all comes down to them getting a pat on the back, and people saying board office people, you did such a fine job at dealing with the school system. You want to know what I have to say about that? I don't think half of you people would even like my comments, because nothing I have to say about the board office is very nice. Actually, you'll probably think that I am a very hateful person. I'm not, but the board office, has just pushed that agravation button on me, that says enough is enough. Let's start worrying about our children for once, instead of worrying about how much money is going in your pockets.
Robin Moore September 13, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Oh and about the union as far as I am concerned we have no union. All they care about is getting their union dues. That's why they got us a contract. Not because they really care about us. Because they don't. They were so unprofessional about the way they dealt with our contract this year. And yea they got us two paid holidays back, thanksgiving and memorial day. But here's the catch. It would take a bus aid even somebody like me whose been in this district since 2000 up until 2019 to get those two holiday pays. That's if they don't up it in the year 2016. Gees what a union.
Bridgette September 13, 2012 at 03:28 AM
The sad part is you're right and when everyone else figures out privitizing everything was a bad idea it will be to late and it will take years to rebuild whet we had and foolishly tossed away to save a few dollars
Nancy Drabicki September 13, 2012 at 11:51 PM
well, all i have to say is," what is happening right now in the plymouth/canton transportation dept. was what i expected". first and foremost the dept. was barely operating successfully before privatization. we had route sheets that were not accurate, management was somewhat adequate, and the turnover ratio for new employee's was too high. the senior drivers were driven to stay because wage and benefits were good. now the incentive to stay has been removed because wage and insurance benefits were taken away. many people like myself left to stay connected to the state retirement system. what i think is a quick fix would be a very invasive stand on correcting route sheets. possibly have the supertindent call lansing to amend the 1040sb (?) give the transportation drivers in the state of michigan more recognition than they have received in the past. the general public think we just get in a bus and drive. that is so far from the truth. we need every district to call lansing and tell them this is a serious issue involving the safety and good welfare of students. and for the custodians remaining as state employees. it is far more easy to empty a waste basket than it is to drive a bus. shame on plymouth canton board of education. just think we are a highly educated staff. i am thankful i work for walled lake schools because they definitely think they way i do now. hopefully, they do thier homework first before making such a stupid decision.
concerned September 15, 2012 at 05:32 PM
As a returning Plymouth-Canton busdriver with more than ten years experience I feel the need to comment about JLG's comments. As far as running yellow traffic lights, hitting curbs, and speeding thru subdivisions have you ever drove a schoolbus with up to 84 passengers? Didn't think so! It is far easier to stop your personal vehicle I can assure you. As far as speeding thru subdivisions not likely it just sounds that way if you aren't familiar with busses which you probably aren't. We do have to curb at times because cars are a whole car length over the line or parked where they shouldn't be and cutting us off to only get in front of us to then stop. I'm sure I can speak for the busdrivers that were here prior to privatizing when I say "we told you(the Board members) you would not get the same professionalism you had with us." Yes, we do consider ourselves professionals and we did and still do, contrary to what you say, put our kids first! Maybe the board members should have taken more time to decide such an important decision.

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