Absent bus drivers force Walled Lake schools to cancel classes

Absent bus drivers force Walled Lake schools to cancel classes

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WALLED LAKE, Mich. (WJBK) -

The Walled Lake Consolidated School District is closed Wednesday as bus drivers protest plans to privatize the district's transportation system.

Walled Lake spokesperson Judy Evola says the school board voted 7-0 last week to privatize bus service with Dean Transportation, putting the jobs of around 100 bus drivers at stake.

"We're not pleased at having to cancel school today and this won't happen again," said Evola.

The closings affect around 15,600 students.

Evola says students and staff scheduled to take Advanced Placement testing should still report to their respective schools.

Superintendent Kenneth Gutman sent the following letter to students and staff Wednesday:

Dear WLCSD Parents and Staff,

The District has been in negotiations with the Walled Lake Transportation Association since August 2012, and has conducted 13 sessions. Although good faith bargaining with the Walled Lake Transportation Association did not yield an agreement, every facet of the Transportation budget was thoroughly researched, and Walled Lake Schools' administration recommended Dean Transportation to provide transportation services to Walled Lake Schools beginning with the 2013-2014 school year. Our Board of Education voted 7-0 to accept this recommendation and to begin the transition process.

Dean Transportation has an excellent safety record, will offer jobs to our drivers, and will compensate our drivers at a competitive rate. Please CLICK HERE for the attached document relative to this change.

State law requires the District to submit a balanced budget by June 30. We are currently working to finalize decisions regarding our 2013-2014 budget, with expected reductions to be an estimated $10 million.  

We are doing everything we can to make decisions that keep cuts as far from the classroom as possible, balance the budget, and continue to offer a quality educational experience for our students and families.

Respectfully,

Kenneth Gutman
Superintendent of Schools


We'll have more on this story throughout the morning.

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