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Plymouth-Canton Addresses Busing Issues

District has experienced busing woes in first month of school year.

Plymouth-Canton identified some of its busing issues thus far this school year and has drafted a plan of action to remedy the problems.

Phil Freeman, the district's assistant superintendent for facilities and operations, said the district was faced with a shortage of drivers in the weeks before the 2012-13 scool year, necessitating new hires, and dealt with other obstaclces, such as road construction and busing added this year for the Starkweather alternative high school program and a second Talented and Gifted (TAG) school, Dodson Elementary.

Freeman presented his findings Tuesday to the Plymouth-Canton Board of Education after problems were brought to the board on Sept. 11 by Isbister Elementary 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.

Freeman cited the shortage of drivers as the underlying reason behind the busing inadequacies so far this year, with a turnover of 55 drivers in the past year, including 15 who left in the two weeks before school started. He said hiring for new drivers will continue throughout the school year.

Additionally, Freeman said, drivers face unpredictable driving each day because of students running late, traffic, construction and other variable factors. 

Freeman said the district will factor the impact on transportation when creating new programs and activities.

Work remains for the district, however, Freeman said, including a thorough analysis of the district's transportation system compared with a similar-sized district. Freeman said in total, district buses transport 10,000 students a total of 1.75 million miles per school year.

cz October 10, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Bus drivers are kids first impression of school. They can make or break a child's success. Mrs. Beverly, makes the children feel comfortable and warm and fuzzy when they get on the bus. Busing should not be contracted out. My middle schooler was late on MEAP testing day due to busing. I would appreciate it if bus drivers use Mrs. Beverly as an example for how to gain respect from your passengers. A bus driver should be someone who likes kids and they deserve good wages and benefits.
Bruce Koldys October 10, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Doing a story about busing troubles in PCCS without mentioning outsourcing is like doing a story on the parting of the Red Sea and not mentioning the water
John McKay (Editor) October 10, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Bruce - we've mentioned the external busing service in previous posts. It wasn't mentioned as an issue last night so it was omitted for the sake of not losing focus.
Bruce Koldys October 10, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Ok thanks John for the clarification
Colleen G October 10, 2012 at 07:22 PM
I had issues with the bus driver/transportation office the first day of school, and we also attend Isbister. The driver did not drop my son, or 2 neighbor girls off, and never stopped at the correct stop. I called the transportation office who informed me that all busses were back and empty. They could not tell me where the kids were. I was asked if my kid got off somewhere else and was walking home, or maybe he was with a friend. Then they wanted to know if I knew if the kids got on the bus. We did know this because the principal put the kids on the bus and knew the missing kids. Then transportation offered to send a bus and driver back to our sub to drive around and look for the kids. As I was getting ready to call 911, dispatch let me know the bus was on my street and was dropping the kids off. How can she have kids left if all busses are back? When asking the driver what happened, she lied to me and said she stopped and nobody got off. Several neighbors saw the bus fly by. The missing kids were screaming stop, and she didn't. She told the kids she would turn around, but she kept them till the route was done. I emailed Mr. Freeman several times wanting to know what the policy is for when kids are "missing" and aren't dropped off. I never got a response. I want to know what the policy is and what went wrong so we can fix the policy, or create a policy. No parent should ever go through the panic of being told their kid is missing and the busses are empty.
john nichols October 10, 2012 at 11:16 PM
WOW
Emily October 11, 2012 at 11:57 AM
The bussing is terrible, and when you read that we lost 55 drivers in a year, that is a HUGE concern. The turnover is atrocious, and these are the people responsible with transporting our children daily. This is scary and downright unacceptable. Our elementary bus was 40 minutes late on Tuesday, MEAP day. Excellent. This is the problem with outsourcing. My concern though, is that should we complain enough about the terrible transportation, the board could completely eliminate bussing. A district does not have to provide bussing to general education students. Scary thought...
Angela Nolan October 11, 2012 at 01:43 PM
The bus driver of bus #25 that takes kids, including mine, from Canton HS back to Central MS (orchestra) at 7:45am screams at the kids and does "break checks" to get them to sit down. As soon as I heard this from my child I called the transportation department. The phone rang and rang but nobody answered the phone. I called again later in the day and the same thing. And the next day. Finally a friend with a child on the same bus got through to the director he told her our kids would be put on a different bus with another driver the very next day. My child called me from the bus in tears because there was no other bus and there was the nasty screaming driver ready to torment them again. I understand driver shortages, etc. but to have a bully as a driver that is scaring the kids is outright unacceptable. Don't these buses have security cameras? And putting another adult on the bus does nothing because obviously the driver is going to be on his best behavior. This is showing kids an incredibly poor example. Get it together Mr. Freeman and MAKE SOME POSITIVE CHANGES IN THIS DISTRICT - The THIRD largest in the state!
Emily October 11, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Brake checks?!?! Seriously? Wow. I have heard that the screaming by drivers is at an all time high from the students on the bus. The drivers do not care. They come and simply do the minimum job to take a paycheck home. They are contract - they have no vested interest in these kids. The transportation office does not answer the phone nor do they return calls. Excellent customer service (yes, we are the customers, and the district consistently fails to recognize this tidbit). We have rampant abuse on the buses, too, and one parent was told that the school cannot control what happens on the bus, especially the back of the bus, so tell you kids to sit in front. Really? THAT is the solution? We have bullies ruling the bus, running the back with no consequences. We have drivers doing brake checks and yelling at kids for standing up but not for beating the tar out of kids. This is ridiculous. I am so glad we are saving a few bucks for this (lack of) service.
jim October 12, 2012 at 10:06 PM
lets talk about busing... THE REASON WE HAVE TO YELL IS THAT WE NEED TO BE LOUDER THAN YOUR KIDS!!! Do you realize to be hired the new drivers had to pay to be fingerprinted and be submitted for a FBI criminal background check, & Drug Screen! go through hours of Bus Driving Training ,and pass a 2 hour driving skills test Administered by the State! and Pass Michigan Secretary of States knowldge testing and federal D.O.T. testing and have a SPOTLESS driving record to begin with ! Once they are drivers attend 30 hours of state drivers training , Pass a Federal Department of Transportation Pysical and attend Bi annual continued education training The Drivers in the Plymouth-Canton District are and will always be some of the best drivers in the state! If you think the drivers should be district employees again pass a MILLAGE and INCREASE TAXES to PAY FOR IT! I would love to be a district employee and get full paid medical for my family without a huge co pay have 30 sick days paid per year! get paid for Hollidays, get a paid vacation Come On Plymouth Canton Voters Pass a millage !
Emily October 14, 2012 at 10:27 PM
So Jim, let me get this straight...you are upset with the requirements to be hired and the training needed to be hired in order to transport our children? And if you were a district employee and had full paid medical and sick time, holidays, and paid vacation, THAT would then make you a more tolerant and better driver? Sorry, not buying it. If you take a job, you should put forth your best effort, period. You make it sound as if the drivers will be so much better if only they had better benefits. Perhaps I am misunderstanding you.
Darken October 20, 2012 at 07:32 AM
Ok, Jim, let's be straight, fingerprinting and background checks are nothing new. That is a state requirement. And you complaining about continuing ed and et al? Be real. If you have issues, I suggest you apply to Trinity who has a sign posted at 275 and Ann Arbor Rd, since the Plymouth-Canton Transportation Department took the signs down near Mill St. Apparently you are not what this community wants from it's drivers. However, I will say, the driver that is at Ridge and North Territorial at approximately 7:15 stops where they are supposed to, and is EXTREMELY courteous.
john nichols October 20, 2012 at 10:22 AM
Darken, sounds like your child rides the same bus as my child as we live there also

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