WALLED LAKE (WWJ) – School was canceled Wednesday for students in Walled Lake following a mass sickout by bus drivers.
One-fourth of the district’s nearly 100 bus drivers unexpectedly took the day off in an apparent protest over the recent decision to outsource busing.
Walled Lake Consolidated School District spokeswoman Judy Evola said despite the closure, some students are still required to go to school Wednesday because of ongoing advanced placement testing.
“All the advanced placement tests are taking place today, so students and staff involved in advanced placement testing, they must report today,” she said.
The school will also be open Wednesday for parents who need child care, Evola said. The closings affect roughly 15,600 students.
Evola said administrators will be working on an alternate transportation plan, should there be another bus driver sickout before the end of the year.
“This won’t happen again. We are going to be strategizing today. If this does occur again, we will have a plan in place that we will communicate with our parents,” she said.
Superintendent Kenneth Gutman said the district hired a private company to provide busing services after they failed to reach an agreement with the Walled Lake Transportation Association. Dean Transportation is set to take over bus duties for the district beginning in the fall. Officials say the move will be good for the school’s bus drivers, by offering jobs at a competitive rate.
“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,” Gutman said in a statement.
The district has until June 30 to submit a balanced budget, which Gutman said they plan to cut by $10 million.
The bus drivers association has disputed the savings.