Happy New Year One and All!
In the Valley, we have started our second semester and I continue to marvel at the rapid passage of time. I hope everyone had a wonderful break focused on family, traditions, and rejuvenation. 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. Regardless of whether you have children in school or not, please be mindful of kids coming and going and the new traffic patterns. This is an unfortunate reality we are all dealing with. We hope that once our normal busing routes are reestablished, ridership will increase on our buses and traffic will be reduced.
We are planning a system at Fuller Street School that will pull up to 48 cars off of the Casgrove/M-66 intersection. The map is available on our Transportation website, and Facebook and handed out as maps to our families this past Friday. 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 continues (for more information on how extensive this process is, review our board presentation from December 12, 2022, which can be found on our Transportation tab). Once testing is conducted on January 11, 2023, we will be able to 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 the “Cost of Transportation in Michigan” paper on the Transportation tab of our webpage at mvs.k12.mi.us. Transportation is not funded in the Michigan pupil allocation school finance model. This leads to inequity for rural districts like ours as it deflects money from the classroom that geographically smaller districts do not need to spend. The study on our website 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. First, 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. Second, transportation is a privilege, not a right and students should conduct themselves with excellent respect for that privilege. Third, Maple Valley is an outstanding community that pulls together in times of need. I 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 I am supremely grateful.
It is a great day to be in the Valley,