Muskegon Heights School Board plans for new bus stop option

Andrew Trzaska | November 10, 2010

Muskegon Heights Public Schools students will likely have an extra option for bus pick-up and drop-off starting in December.

Current corner-to-corner routes will remain in effect for Muskegon Heights students who ride the bus. However, starting December 6, all routes will include an extra stop at the closest elementary school to the route’s path both in the morning and the afternoon. Students may choose to walk to the nearest elementary school to meet their bus in the morning, and can opt to exit the bus at that stop in the afternoon.

At Monday’s work session, the Muskegon Heights school board heard a report on the plan from Rosie Holmes, principal of Edgewood elementary and member of the school system’s transportation team.  Holmes and the school board gave two reasons for the new plan: to avoid hazardous winter weather conditions and to increase student safety.  The plan is, in part, a reaction to a recent incident in Muskegon, where a 9-year-old girl was abducted from her bus stop and assaulted by a still-unknown male.

This new option does not eliminate the old routes but adds to the existing ones. All students from elementary to high school can choose to use the elementary schools to meet their bus.  An extra five minutes would be added to the timing of each route to allow for the extra stop. The buildings will be opened early and close later to accommodate students. Adult aides will supervise the students waiting inside, and will make sure students get on their bus at the appropriate time.

Though currently closed, both Glendale and Roosevelt schools will be used. There will also be a plan in place for students who are late for their buses or whose parents are late in picking them up from the school.

Holmes reported that final costs were still being calculated, which will include pay for the aides covering each building. The board is still looking for a way to pay for the plan.  During Monday’s meeting, superintendent Dr. Dana Bryant said he is weighing the costs and benefits of the plan.  He said he felt that paying for an extra “three hours a day for safety is not an issue for us”.

Other board members, including President Avery Burrell, also expressed concerns about the cost due to the school’s budget concerns, but were pleased with the transportation team’s developing plans and their speed of response.

Holmes said the transportation team is still deciding how many people would be stationed at each building before and after school, but said that there would be at least one aide per building.  The aides will be trained in opening and closing the building and supervising students ahead of the anticipated December 6 start date.

Notices to parents explaining final details of the elementary school stop option and how it affects the routes will be distributed by the end of November.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst