By Merry Grace
Over the school year there have been several ongoing issues with MUSD buses like overcrowding and route delays. Recent articles have shed light on safety issues with buses in our district. I wrote an op-ed in November questioning what is going on to lead to a shortage of drivers and why there is a revolving door.
I had several drivers, both present and former, speak to me off the record saying they have been told they cannot speak up about issues in the department. How do we as parents know what the problems are if the problems are to be kept in-house? More important, how do we know steps are being taken toward solutions? How do we know that the problems are being brought up to the school board and not just kept hidden within the department?
I live in a subdivision that has had a huge growth with new homes being built and families moving in. This is happening all over our ever-growing city, which leads to an increase in students and bus riders. With the new school year approaching, we need to take a look at the transportation department to ensure all problems are being resolved.
It is time for parents to stand up and speak out to advocate for change. The bottom line is the safety of our students, and I know first-hand our board has made student safety a priority. Do we have enough buses, in excellent working road trip status, to fulfill the need of our increasing student population? Have routes been examined to ensure maximum coverage within all neighborhoods? Do we have enough qualified mechanics to prevent buses sitting on the lot broken down? Do we have enough qualified drivers, and what type of screening is being done upon hiring as well as periodically? Does the department have a good system in place to flow effectively?
At the end of the day, we should not be having the same problems year after year. Change is upon us, and it is time for parents to advocate for the department that seems to have been overlooked and is in need of many improvements. I have witnessed our board step in and take control of situations and make changes to ensure our district continues to move forward. It is time for parents to feel secure in putting their child on MUSD buses and know that they will be safe and on time.
Let’s start the new year off on the right foot and ensure our transportation is the best.
Merry Grace is a parent of students in Maricopa Unified School District.