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Posted on Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 6:04 a.m.

3 Washtenaw County school districts agree to consolidate busing operations for the fall

By David Jesse

Only three of the 10 traditional school districts in Washtenaw County have signed on to consolidate their busing operations for the upcoming school year.

The Washtenaw Intermediate School District’s school board officially approved contracts with the Ann Arbor, Willow Run and Ypsilanti school district earlier this week, the WISD announced Wednesday.


Willow Run is among the three districts joining the WISD busing system.

File photo

WISD officials have said most bus routes will remain the same for the next school year. The one area that might see changes in the fall is special education bus routes.

All 10 of the districts will pool their resources to buy fuel, bus parts and supplies, the WISD news release said.

“Together we developed a transportation design that is safe, cost-effective, and efficient,” WISD Superintendent William Miller said in the release. “We look forward to working with Ann Arbor, Willow Run and Ypsilanti and remain open to fully implementing the transportation design for other districts if and when they are ready to participate.

“In the meantime, we’ll continue to explore new ways to share services so that we can direct even more resources to the classroom.”

Officials have said a consolidated system will likely save the districts between 18 percent and 25 percent of their transportation costs.

Most of the savings in the first year will come through lower employee costs. All the transportation workers, including bus drivers, will be laid off in each of the three districts. They can reapply for a job with the WISD, but aren’t promised positions.

The districts are making the moves because of tight budget times, individual school boards have said. Other districts discussed joining the WISD system, but ultimately didn’t sign on for the next school year.

Ann Arbor was projecting a $20 million budget shortfall for this school year and made a series of other cuts to come up with the savings. Both Ypsilanti and Willow Run are operating with budget deficits and are under state-mandated plans to get back in the black.

LaTisha Colt, who has two sons in the Willow Run school district, said she likes the move.

“They don’t have any money,” she said. “They’ve got to save it wherever they can and at least this means they’re not cutting as many teachers.”

The WISD school board also authorized its superintendent to hire a director of transportation services. The WISD is currently accepting applications for transportation personnel, including bus drivers and aides.

David Jesse covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.


Jay Thomas

Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 4:08 p.m.

It won't save any money; that's just a smokescreen (probably cost more). The plan was always about social engineering by providing transportation for students whose parents couldn't drive them to another school district; so the West Willow students could go to school in Ypsi; and the Ypsi students could go to Ann Arbor. It will lead to more problems and charges of racism down the road when many of the students do not come up to expectation. These charges get leveled about once every five years in the AAPS system already.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 8:36 a.m.

I would love to have a carpool however,I do not live in the school neighborhood that my special ed son goes to (as is the same with most of the special ed students at his school) so the kids that he goes to school with don't live anywhere near us. I also have a son that goes to our neighborhood school. I have to be at work by 7:30 so it would be hard for me to be part of a carpool. Right now I have a sitter that comes in the morning to get my kids on the bus (2 separate buses). Anyway,if I could find someone to drive my kids to and from school,I would.


Mon, Jul 19, 2010 : 2:18 p.m.

To the parents who are concerned? Might want to do what they in MA. Carpool children to school. You have to pay for transportation there. I do agree, no one knows what will happen in September.


Sun, Jul 18, 2010 : 7:08 p.m.

I did know the driver of my son's bus last year but you are right,will it be the same driver all the time and will that driver know my child's needs? another scary thing to think about. I am actually trying to figure out a way for him not to ride the bus but unfotunatly,I'm not sure that will happen.


Sun, Jul 18, 2010 : 3:16 a.m.

MIKEY2U It wasn't the parents who consolidated all the country schools into the current school districts that require all the busing.


Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 4:25 p.m.

In the case of Lincoln Consolidated Schools. They voted out of this and with their union transportation workers. They saved $1. At least this is what I heard. So now there is three. None of the AAPS Transportation workers knew what was going on until this week when a letter went out telling the workers as of August 31 they will no longer be employed with the district. Ypsilanti had UIA come in 2 weeks prior to the end of the school year to help their workers fill out these forms. Not Ann Arbor. They are already getting their unemployment. AAPS bus drivers and monitors are filtering into UIA now because they didn't know they could file right after the last day of school. AAPS did not let them know they could. I guess to save a buck or two? So strange the left does not know what the right is doing. Also, it is not re applying to the new company. It is applying to the new company. You cannot re apply to a company if you never worked for them in the first place. Just a thought. Going to one wild roller coaster ride for everyone in September. I hate to say it, but this is not a great idea.

Fat Bill

Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 9:27 a.m.

Just pointing out that in many districts, the only benefit most of the bus drivers receive is the retirement program. In Saline, for example, the vast majority of the school bus drivers are scheduled for less than 5 hours per day, thus not qualifying for those gold plated medical benefits. In addition, 1 "dispatcher" would not be able to manage a whole county full of school busses. Mechanics can only handle so many busses per position, etc. So long as a district is running lean and 20 hour workers aren't getting 40 hour bennies, there is not as much to save by consolidating.


Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 7:28 a.m.

here is something for "proudtobeme" to think about, first i hope that you know the person that drove your child this past year, feels good to know that you do and can trust you child with them, question? do you know who is going to be driving your child under this new system, and do you know that they will properly care for the needs of your child or will that child be part of a mass public transportation system for all of our kids in school


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 7:58 p.m.

I hadn't thought about the transfering busses but I bet your right about that. I certainly hope they have aides on the busses to walk the kids to their new bus. There is no way my 2nd grade special ed student will be able to transfer himself. This is really scary! It just goes to show you that they are not thinking of the students with special needs.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 6:22 p.m.

I'm with 'proudtobeme' about concerns over special ed routes. My daughter's bus ride to her special education classroom was 1 hour and 15 minutes each way with AAPS busing in the past (We reside in the AA district). What will her new commute look like with the consolidation of services? I would hope it would make her ride shorter. However, I have heard from our district that she may have to transfer from one bus to another mid route with this new system and that her ride may be even longer. If I drive it takes 20 minutes. Mr. Jesse, can you do some more investigating into how the new system may impact our special education students?

Jay Allen

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 5:11 p.m.

dr i. You made this statement: "I'd like to see all of those who make negative remarks about those involved in education, which includes bus drivers, custodians and teachers," Now I do not have a Phd, however I did complete remedial reading. This is statement is is definitely pro-union along with the rest of your first post. No one said anything about teachers and you quickly twist (or attempt to twist) the conversation in a direction that it was not originally presented. AMOC has also pointed this out in their post as well. Perhaps if you wish to discuss "teachers" and "unions" you should first research the topic and educate yourself. You are going to find strong opposition to "unions" here in this area.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 2:50 p.m.

David Jesse: Originally the head of the WISD said this project would only work if at least 5 of the districts participated. Did you ask them about this? Because it seems like they are going ahead with something that they said "wouldn't work" previously.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 1:29 p.m.

Tredd You are spot on, as a union driver I can tell you that our membership has ratifeid a contract that calls for a reduction in pay and benifets. The savings to the district were the same as the consolidation plan, and we gave up less then half of what we would have had we been consolidated. Makes you wonder where the rest of the money is going. Can anyone say corporate profit on the backs of the working class. Glad to still be a union driver I can always bargin theese concessions back. Look for the WISD drivers to unionize as well, you just cant keep the working man/women down no mater how hard you try!


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

Dr I. - Why are you defending teachers against an attack that wasn't there? And where on earth do you get your statistics on comparative pay? I have a BS, an MBA and a certificate equivalent to an MS degree and over 20 years of experience. But because my particular profession is in decline in Michigan and throughout the Midwest, I can't find a job except contract positions that pay about $75,000 a year with very minimal benefits. For that, employers expect 60 hour weeks with no overtime pay, 13 paid holidays / year and allow up to 2 weeks of unpaid vacation or sick leave per year. I also think those talking about consolidating administration are right on target. The consolidated transportation department means that the participating districts can contribute to paying 1 supervisor and 1 dispatcher, not 3 of each. This is a savings to the districts, though it is also hard on the 4 people who may not be re-hired. I'd like to see consolidation of multiple entire school districts in this county. There's no reason to have 10 superintendents and 10 sets of central administrators, purchasing directors, curriculum consultants, etc.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 12:22 p.m.

I'm a little nervous that they say the only routes that will probably see changes are the special ed busses-what does that mean? I have a child who rides a special ed bus and I am a little nervous about this.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 10:46 a.m.

Just another example of budgets being balanced on the backs of those who can least afford it.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

Eventually a lack of funding will force school administrators to focus on education. (Thats a good thing.) The burden of student transportation will on placed on parents (where it should be.) Bussing students to school might have been a good idea 50 years ago when fuel was pennies per gallon but those days are long gone. The very notion that a school might lay-off a teacher and retain a bus driver goes a long way toward explaining why students in the US are falling behind the rest of the world.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 9:21 a.m.

How about consolidate administrations that would save more money then the transportation dept.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 9:18 a.m.

@Dr. I Em, you generalizations about private -vs- public salaries/incomes are way off base. Public sector workers incomes in Michigan are much higher than private sector workers and on top of that they have the Cadillac benefits and pensions that are not sustainable moving forward.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 8:30 a.m.

i dont see a need for combining the buses if we knew how to manage all of this great lottery money that the schools are getting, ha

Jimmy Olsen

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 8:22 a.m.

@Dr. I Obamacare will take care of the benefit issue for us all. The fact that many private professions, especially in the healthcare arena, or tech jobs - also include continuing education, etc. I'm not disputing teachers need to be paid well - most are worth every penny - I'm saying the distinction between private/public is becoming less and less. What the public (unions) need to realize is that it is 2010 and contracts developed in the 70's that have no flexibility are passe and need to be changed. The UAW finally saw that, and I expect others to follow as EA contracts expire around the county.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

In question - right on!

Dr. I. Emsayin

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 7:43 a.m.

One thing the public employees have has is benefits. They have opted for the safety of benefits with a relatively low wage job. Considering the amount of education needed to maintain a teaching certification, most of the teachers could make more money in another profession. Good benefits have been a perk of working in the public sector. Take that away, and our best and brightest will not gravitate toward public education as a career. Our young citizens need well educated teachers. Those who serve as bus drivers and custodians have a lot invested in their retirements with the school systems. I think those of us on the outside should not be so quick to take from the public servants because we don't have what we used to have.

In Question

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 7:34 a.m.

Moonmaiden, maybe because it is NOT such a good idea and the other districts see that it is going to be a total failure. lol. They shot for 10 districts and ended up with 3...??? Oh my!

Jimmy Olsen

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 7:15 a.m.

@dr I "It's amazing how much money people in the private sector make as they criticize unions." What a broad and totally inaccurate generalization. Walk down any street in any city in this county and ask the private sector employees what cuts/hits they have taken. Compared to some of us, the public employees aren't doing so bad....

Chris Blackstone

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 7:10 a.m.

Maybe this will be the first step towards consolidating the 10 school districts in Washtenaw County into 1 school district. That would bring about even great savings.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 7 a.m.

It's amazing how much money people in the private sector make as they criticize unions. The rich get richer and step on the little people who actually helped them get where they are and who made what they have. I'd like to see all of those who make negative remarks about those involved in education, which includes bus drivers, custodians and teachers, as well as paraprofessionals, try for one week to do the work of these folks. And if they are serious about trying, they can sign up to substitute teach or substitute secretary for $75 a day before taxes, to see what it is like to work hard trying to educate our young people.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 6:21 a.m.

In reading the article and then reading between the lines, all 10 districts are participating on pooled purchasing power which makes absolute sense. Between the lines I read that AA school board finally acknowledges that it has a horrible track record of negotiating with their unions and this is a convenient way to sidestep the whole issue. "Most of the savings in the first year will come through lower employee costs. All the transportation workers, including bus drivers, will be laid off in each of the three districts. They can reapply for a job with the WISD, but arent promised positions." This is how you hand out pay cuts and dodge the tough negotiations. Watch the blogs in the coming year concerning the other 7 districts. As you read this they are preparing their bargaining positions...take wage cuts or we'll throw you into the WISD pool and you can swim on your own...


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 5:38 a.m.

If this is such a great idea, why are only three districts participating?