Swartz Creek schools struggle with transportation issues

SWARTZ CREEK — Swartz Creek Community Schools Superintendent Ben Mainka is urging parents to be patient as district officials try to iron out some transportation issues, particularly as they affect parents who drive their children to school.

Parents have complained about traffic congestion and lack of effective drop-off and pick-up protocols at several of the buildings.

“We have struggled,” Mainka said. “Interestingly and ironically, one of the largest challenges we’re facing is the number of families who are driving their children to school.”

Most of the buildings are more than 50 years old, built at a time when markedly fewer parents drove their children to school.

“Our schools were not designed for parent drop off,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem, Mainka said.

“Some parents say they’re not comfortable placing their child on a bus with 30, 40 or 50 other students,” he said.

Others do not want their children to wear masks, as is required on all buses.

Additional challenges have been brought on by the ongoing construction at the middle school and high school, as well as road work on the streets in Winchester Village.

As a first step, district officials are seeking to hire part-time traffic guards to help guide traffic more efficiently and safely.

“We are trying to remedy it,” Mainka said.

The district also continues to struggle with a shortage of bus drivers.

In previous years, the district has employed about 22 bus drivers. The 2021-22 school year started with just 13, and that number has grown by only one since then.

Mainka said it’s difficult to find qualified applicants for the jobs.