Maricopa children ride buses to schools outside of the city every day.
Valley schools that bus Maricopa children:
Kyrene School District:
Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School, Kyrene del Pueblo Middle School, Kyrene de la Estrella, Kyrene de los Lagos, Kyrene del Milenio.
Tempe Union High School District: Mountain Pointe High School
It’s often considered a controversial option that has been available to families since incorporation. Parents send their children to school in the Valley for a variety of reasons, including displeasure with Maricopa schools and perceived better educational opportunities.
The Maricopa Unified School District, the only district with a transportation department, has seen a recent upsurge in parent and student complaints.
Many parents turn to other options.
Two school districts, Kyrene and Tempe Union High, send 15 buses to and from Maricopa five days a week.
The commute involves sitting through rush hour traffic on the troublesome State Route 347, a roadway with a dangerous reputation.
In 2014 there were 104 crashes, 46 injuries and one death caused by vehicular accidents on SR 347, according to the most recent data provided by the Arizona Department of Transportation.
Despite the safety concern, parents who send their children to schools in the Valley said their students are safe.
Bethany Auxier Anguiano’s two children, third and first graders, attend an elementary school in the Kyrene District.
The kids leave the house at 6:30 a.m. to catch the bus, Anguiano said.
“I am not actually concerned too much about the 347 because traffic is so slow during morning rush hour. We have a great bus driver and our bus has seat belts,” she said.
Overall, Anguiano said, there are no major issues with transportation besides the occasional accident on the 347 that prevents students from getting to school on time.
Of the 10 routes running in Maricopa from the Kyrene School District, only one bus has been involved in an accident in the past two years, according to Transportation Director Eric Nethercutt.
Most recently, a Kyrene bus was in an accident on John Wayne Parkway Nov. 6.
“My kids don’t ride the bus in the mornings because my husband drops them off on the way to work, thankfully,” said parent Kathie Gerow-Martin. “(There is) no overcrowding on the way home, but their bus was hit last week in the morning so I’m very thankful they were not on it at that time.”
The Maricopa Police Department said none of the 26 children on board at the time were injured.
Although accidents are reportedly a rare occurrence for Kyrene’s Maricopa routes, Gerow-Martin said SR 347 still worries her.
“(The 347 is) a huge concern with my husband and I, but my daughter has a phone, so I feel a lot better about the commute because, of course, if anything is wrong she can call and text us,” Gerow-Martin said.
Kyrene buses children to three elementary schools and two middle schools. Tempe UHSD transports students to Mountain Pointe High School.
Like Kyrene, the Mountain Pointe routes have been involved in one accident in the past two years, said TUHSD Transportation Director Tim Snow.
Would you like to share your child’s transportation experience? Contact Reporter Michelle Chance at Michelle.Chance@InMaricopa.com.