January 4, 2023

Transportation Update (01.04.2023)

Please read this transportation update from Dr. Bertolini and Mr. Chamberlain.

Happy New Year One and All!

We are in the midst of our first week of transportation adjustments and want to thank everyone for their patience, collaboration, and effort to come together as One Valley in this challenge we face together.

There has been an increase in families dropping their students off directly at schools rather than using the Community Stops. This has impacted local traffic patterns around our schools in the morning and afternoon. We hope that once our normal busing routes are reestablished, ridership will increase on our buses and traffic will be reduced. Until that time, we want to remind folks that there is another community stop at the West End of the High School parking lot that loads students to be transferred to Maplewood and Fuller at 7:35 am. If that works better for your schedule, please contact our bus garage and request that your children be added to that roster. That may alleviate a bit of the current congestion around our two elementary buildings. At this time, due to staffing constraints, we are not able to extend building access to students beyond their current access.

Fuller Street Elementary School:
We are planning a system, starting Monday, January 9th, 2023, that will pull vehicles off of the Casgrove/M-66 intersection. This Drop-Off & Pick-Up Traffic Flow Map will be handed out to our families this week. Please also review the Drop-Off & Pick-Up Instructions for Fuller Street Elementary School.

Maplewood Elementary School:
We will continue to monitor traffic around Maplewood once normal routes are reestablished to see if another staging option is available. In the meantime, we encourage people to make safety a priority, use 4-way flashers to make the traffic lines as obvious as possible to other drivers, and be cautious.

In regard to our driver pool, we continue to make excellent progress in our hires. We have hired sufficient drivers to restore all of our routes to normal operations. The training and licensing continue (for more information on how extensive this process is, review this Board Presentation from December 12, 2022). Once driver certifications are taken on January 11, 2023, pending successful completion, we will establish a timeline for when normal operations will resume. Until then, we are in this together to get our kids safely to and from school.

If you are disturbed by the challenges we are facing, I encourage you to read this Cost of Transportation in Michigan paper. Transportation is not funded in the Michigan pupil allocation school finance model. This leads to inequity for rural districts like ours as it takes money from the classroom that geographically smaller districts do not need to spend. This study details how some other states fund their school transportation. Please write or call your legislators to educate them of our needs in Maple Valley and encourage direct financing of school transportation as part of the school funding formula.

While this transportation crisis is regrettable, it has clarified some very important points.

  1. Transportation is a critical piece of our system. As such drivers should be appreciated for the extraordinary responsibility they take on every day to safely transport our kids in all weather conditions.
  2. Transportation is a privilege, not a right and students should conduct themselves with excellent respect for that privilege.
  3. Maple Valley is an outstanding community that pulls together in times of need. We continue to be humbled and appreciative of the good faith in which people have approached this problem. Overwhelmingly, the majority of our families have been gracious, appreciative, and willing to understand our challenge. For that, we are supremely grateful.

It is a great day to be in the Valley,

Dr. Katherine Bertolini Eric Chamberlain
Dr. Katherine Bertolini
Mr. Eric Chamberlain
Director of Transportation & Operations