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Posted on Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 4:09 p.m.

Ann Arbor school district to explore privatizing transportation, custodians

By David Jesse

school bus 1.JPG

The Ann Arbor school district has begun looking at outsourcing its busing as part of efforts to deal with its budget shortfall. File photo.

The Ann Arbor school district has begun looking at how much money it could save if it privatized its busing and custodial work.

The district is expected to issue a Request for Proposal next week seeking details from companies interested in providing the services, Superintendent Todd Roberts said today.

“We said we’re looking at all possible options to address our shortfall,” Roberts said. “We have to find out what the possibilities are so we can assess it to see what the savings are and if its something we want to do.”

Roberts said no decision or recommendation has been made. The school board would have to approve any move to privatization.

The district currently spends about $7.2 million on transportation, Roberts said. It spends about $18.8 million on custodial and maintenance operations.

Roberts didn’t immediately know the number of district employees in each of those departments.

Union officials could not be reached for comment.

If the move is approved by the school board, the departments wouldn’t be the first district operations to be privatized.

Ann Arbor, along with every other district in the county, hired private company PESG three school years ago to provide substitute teachers to the district.

The same year, the district turned over all its food operations to Chartwells.

The district is facing about a $20 million shortfall over this school year and next, due in large part to cuts and projected cuts from the state to its per-pupil state aid.

“We’re just trying to look at possible options,” Roberts said. “Our goal is to try to stay away from making cuts to instruction.”

Parent Miles Worthy, who has two children in the district, said he’s glad to hear the news.

“If they can get some big savings there, maybe they won’t have to cut teachers. That would be great. I think they are doing the right thing.”

Parent Angela Cole, who has three elementary children in the district, is concerned about move toward privatization.

“Our bus driver does a great job with our kids, and the custodian at our school takes a lot of time to interact with the students. I don’t think that if those people are employees of some private firm and not of the district, they will take as much time with the kids. They (bus drivers and custodians) have contact with kids. We’ve got to be careful about who we are hiring. Will the district have the same ability to review who’s working in the schools? It worries me.”

Roberts said they hope to have proposals back within six weeks after the RFP is issued.

Ann Arbor is not the only county school district to look at hiring a private firm to run its busing. Lincoln is in the process of looking at how it can save money on transportation. One of the options discussed recently by district officials there was outsourcing its busing. Pinckney schools in Livingston County privatized its bus fleet years ago.

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


Eleanor Howell-Shryock

Wed, Mar 31, 2010 : 11:53 a.m.

After writing an article of my own on the topic of privatization for my school newspaper, the Huron Emery, in light of a recent protest on our campus I found it hard to be un-biased. This is obviously an issue that hits hard within our community and has the potential to change many lives both directly and indirectly. I think custodial and transportation services should be privatized. A lot of the controversy surrounding this proposal stems from parents fears for their childrens safety. District Spokeswoman Liz Margolis dismissed these worries in an interview I conducted with her saying, All employees will still be subject to the same felony checks in place for current employees. These parents must also remember that this is not the first time AAPS have taken steps in the field of privatization; Chartwells privatized our food services back in 2003. I also contacted the Director of Transportation for Pinckney Community Schools (PCS), Susan Joerin. PCSs transportation services were privatized back in 1994. Joerin said, National Bus (the company the services were contracted to and has sense become First Student) hired half the current district employees and the other half did not want to work for a private company that doesnt pay health care or pension. It is regrettable that jobs and income would be lost in this transfer but as Liz Margolis said, We are trying to make reductions as far away from the classroom as possible. These cuts are estimated to save a combined 4.5 million dollars. The reasons for the district is considering such a drastic proposal is in order to combat the 20 million dollar budget deficit. Does 4.5 million dollars not chisel away a significant amount of that deficit? As a high school student myself I cant begin to voice my frustration regarding classroom cuts. To many times have I seen after school activities canceled and classrooms fill up with greater and greater amounts of students, as teachers grow further and further from their students. I appreciate the importance of the jobs of custodial and transportation workers but they would still be fulfilled if managed by private companies. I understand the severity of my claims because this decision isnt just about me, it encircles our whole community, but I feel that privatizing these services would be best for AAPS students and families.


Wed, Jan 13, 2010 : 7:14 p.m.

I hate to see AAPS privatize another unit. They did that with food service and I don't think it improved the service or food that the children receive. I am also not comfortable with having people who are not vested in the concern for the students and staff working with these children & staff. Our custodians work hard to keep "their" buildings clean and our bus drivers take PRIDE in making sure "their" riders are safe. Please reconsider these choices. How about a "retirement" incentive?

recovering bureacrat

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 5:02 p.m.

I don't know it for a fact, but I heard that one of the private busing companies (the Trinity Co.) is owned by the U.K. meaning more of our money is going out of the country. I hope that when the talking heads are exploring these cost savings they are indeed concerned about keeping all revenue funds in our communities.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 7:11 p.m.

I wonder how the custodians feel to have their salary numbers lumped in with the Principal salary numbers in the new budget. It makes it look like the average custodian makes more than $100,000 a year. Take a look at the new budget posting by Ann Arbor Public Schools - the building by building lumps everyone not a teacher's salary and benefits into one number - Custodians, Principals, and Office Staff. The net result a quick average says Custodians and Office Staff make a lot of money. This is not fair to the custodians or the office staff members.

Michael K.

Thu, Dec 24, 2009 : 5:32 p.m.

"School taxes are not a fee for service that only those with children should pay." I think a more effective way of looking at taxes for education, is to think in terms of paying back the community for the education you have already received, that someone else paid for in the past. We were all supported by the community when we were young. Now it is our turn to take care of those who need our help to achieve their full potential. Maybe we should have an official obligation, like a reverse social security system? Maybe a sinking fund, or bond that is amortized over our working life?


Thu, Dec 24, 2009 : 9:28 a.m.

jns131, and all parents concerned who plan to attend the school board meetings in january, please join other supporters on face book at and on the web at It wonderful to see so much community support for public jobs!


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 8:24 p.m.

Here is my last say on this story. I see parents who do see their bus drivers outside of driving. I hate to say it, I see these children run to their drivers and say HELLO. Takes you out of context to realize that you are human too. I am mobilizing parents on my end to crash their phone boards and email internet service as well. As parents we can crash their systems and swell the auditorium on January 7 with a resounding NO. You really think 6,000 parents or more can make a statement? You bet. Merry Xmas Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! We will stand strong. Privatization is not the answer.

Alan Benard

Mon, Dec 21, 2009 : 2:04 a.m.

Yes, Chai, Tony Dearing is apparently not able to distinguish that I was quoting a comment above, from a shop steward for the drivers, and placed that in italics... and then put David Jesse's statement in boldface... and then commented in plain text myself. In the future, I will pay more attention to detail and very clearly label what I am quoting, because apparently marking each bit of text with different type-styles was too confusing for someone who makes his living comprehending reading. Let me make it plain -- talking to management, then talking to the man in the street, and failing miserably to talk to the labor organization representing the workers who are about to get privatized IS CRAP JOURNALISM.


Sun, Dec 20, 2009 : 10:43 p.m.

Just to clarify: Alan is speaking for Alan, criticizing the lax journalistic standards that the Ann Arbor News made famous. Chai is (the union steward) speaking for Chai (myself) and my coworkers. Tony seems to have confused us as one person, in the apparent rush to defend Jesse. Tony Dearing: "when we become aware of a story like this, we report it and get reaction from those who are affected by it. " In fact, I myself made Jesse aware of this breaking news via email on December 11, the very day that the Superintendent of schools told me, personally, that the District was preparing an "RFP" to solicit private bids on Transportation and Custodial Services. Jesse replied by saying: "I had heard about that. please let me know when they are issued." We can all draw our own conclusions from this sequence of events, I think.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Sun, Dec 20, 2009 : 2:54 p.m.

I agree with aataxpayer on this as well. I think it's one of the problems of being both a print paper and an online discussion area. The comment streams don't appear in the print version, and I am willing to bet that many people don't wade through all the comments in the online version. One thing the online format does allow you to do is to adjust the article as new information and reaction from important people and groups becomes available; especially when there is enough time to do that before it goes to print. Discussion forums are great, but they don't really replace the journalistic endeavor. These days, we need good journalism more than ever.

Lisa Starrfield

Sun, Dec 20, 2009 : 11:52 a.m.

jns, Our copays are NOT $2. Someone out there is feeding you bad information.

Alan Benard

Sun, Dec 20, 2009 : 10:49 a.m.

I am one of two Unit Stewards for the (about 139) bus drivers and (about 35) monitors. We are Teamsters Local 214.... The author of the story, David Jesse, asked me to comment via email, about one hour before the piece was published. I was driving my bus at the time!David Jesse: "Union officials could not be reached for comment."This is some fairly terrible journalism, and inexcusable work from the editorship. Stop being crap.


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 11:13 p.m.

According to state law, teachers cannot be privatized but everyone else is fair game. This is a very bad idea in all directions. First and foremost, you need to call transportation to find out why you have a sub on your bus. For the most part, bus drivers do have a higher rate of injury then do the teachers. I have seen teachers out more so then some bus drivers. The union workers who bus your children to and from school cannot strike. If they privatize? They can strike all they want. Then you will get private workers from Indiana or where ever and you cannot guarantee who will be driving your children to and from school. Happened in one school district. They striked. The private company had people coming in to drive their buses until the strike was settled. You need to take a look at the whole picture of the bus driver. They are there when your child throws up on the bus, they are there when your child has a seizure, they are there when your child falls to the ground and needs a band aid or a kleenex for that runny nose, bus drivers are there when your child needs to vent or snitch or tattle. Bus drivers are substitute parents to and from school in all directions. Look at the fights that have occurred on the buses. Do you really think that a private worker is going to call this in? Get involved? I really don't think so. Just remember this. A private worker in Detroit? With children on board solicited a hooker before his shift was over. So think before you jump the gun on privatizing the drivers and monitors. They know their job and they do it well with less pay then these teachers who should be paying a hell of lot more for insurance then they are not right now. Must be nice to pay $2 a pop for co pay or prescriptions. Janitors and bus drivers are just a way for this district to start cutting before they cut the classroom. Look at what they are going to cut before they start in on the drivers and monitors. We hope to see more parents fighting to keep these drivers unionized. Happened in Manchester. Their board tried to do the same thing, the parents fought back and won. What AAPS needs to do is look at their own backyard and start giving themselves a pay cut, removing excess waste in areas that are not needed. Retool the school calendar by not having half days or closing Skyline when the other hi schools are open? Who ever thought of that was not thinking. There is a lot to cut and privatizing transportation and the drivers is not one of them. Say no January 7.


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 8:38 p.m.

I spoke badly. The gripes about deteriorating living standards and working conditions are not pathetic at all. These gripes from non-union workers and soon-to-be-displaced middle class professionals are THE SAME gripes union workers have. Union wages didn't create economic instability...remember the banks? Remember the bailouts? There's your wreckers. But the knee-jerk anti-unionism is pathetic. I know all about so-called union leaders manipulating workers for easy money. I am VERY vocal against that, in my own union (I like to live dangerously, I guess; these are Teamsters, after all;). It's off-topic, but it's so closely related it's hard to avoid in a debate over privatization. But privatizers haven't shown how they can save a school district money by charging them to do what the schools have done for themselves, but also make a profit while doing it. School districts are tax free, so gas costs us less (one example). Privatizers sucker districts into cash for buses, then end up charging the same amount to provide the service. The district basically breaks even. But it can, and probably will, get a price hike in the future. Unfortunately, it's sold it's buses and can't get out of the privatizers hold/hole. Now, Ann Arbor says they aren't going to sell the fleet. Ok, fine. But they'll still only break even. Workers, on the other hand, will face EVEN FURTHER decreases in wages, benefits, earning power and buying. This hurts the local economy, not just the (in your characterizations:) "greedy, greedy union" workers. Local residents also lose a measure of control of a PUBLIC INSTITUTION. After the district spends the fleet money, they're left facing the old structural deficits in funding. School funding crisis have been recurring regularly since before I was born (in 1965). War and corporate welfare has sucked TRILLIONS of dollars away from public services in that time span alone. Privatization enriches owners, period. It does nothing to improve services or methods that can't be done by public entities and the workers therein. It's an antiunion cliche to say that "unions stand in the way of progress." In Boston and Denver, right now, today, teachers unions are running schools without administrators. They cut costs, kept unions, empowered the community and no one single man or company had to profit from it to make it happen.

Lisa Starrfield

Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 7:55 p.m.

ffej440, Most everybody who has employer based health care do not have to pay '50%' of their insurance. Most pay a quarter of the premiums for an average of $3300 for a family of four.

The Picker

Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 6:50 p.m.

You're absolutely right, we must form a union, a taxpayers union, otherwise when everyone is unionized,and there is no restraint on wage increases, only the most basic of services will survive with the remaining unemployed citizens rising in revolution against the new elite. Socialism will never work, because eventually you run out of other peoples money

Sandy Castle

Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 5:10 p.m.

Hail Unions! NOT! Washtenaw County's AFSCME employees have taken approximately a 4% pay cut and they just received notice that their union dues are being raised. How's that for "support" from their union? The sooner we run the unions out of town, the better. They have served their purpose and now outlived it. I have seen a number of teachers post on blogs here that they would be willing to discuss their current contracts, but the local teachers unions never asked them their opinion and they run the show. Unions don't represent their constituents any longer, they represent keeping union leaders wealthy.


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 4:07 p.m.

The union steward again. I'm not bragging. In fact, we've taken a de facto wage freeze. We haven't had a raise in two years. The average of the past 5 years is LESS than 1%. We don't get C.O.L.A., and never did (although everyone who works should). The insurance we do get, is not premium by any stretch of the imagination. It's expensive and inadequate, unfortunately. And, we have not made real (monetary) gains at all in a decade. When you factor in inflation, we've lost money. We've lost paid time off. We've lost sick time. We are suffering, just like "the rest of us." You just have anti-union biases. Of course some people don't get insurance at all and some people don't have a job. Unions are tools that employed workers can use to fight the corporate greed that got us into a recession and expand jobs and benefits. Unions are "all for one." You're pathetic gripes are selfish. Organize a union where you work, and fight for things that can help us all, like universal employment, single-payer healthcare and price controls on essential goods. WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 1:42 p.m.

I can't believe in this economy that the union steward is "bragging" that the school employees he represents have been getting annual raises and probably cost of living raises too, and are still getting a great deal on fantastic health insurance that most of us would kill for. In these times I would hope that school employees would voluntarily offer to take a meaningful of cut 10%. The people who pay their salaries are suffering much worse than school workers. Please, be responsible to your community. Show some love instesd of just complaining.


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 12:57 p.m.

AnnArbor28 said: The city of A2 really needs to find a way to locally tax the U-M, so that it pays its way. The research facilities generate a lot of money for the U, and they need to pay property taxes to support community services that their workers utilize." No one has the authority to tax the state. The University of Michigan is, by far, the largest employer in the county. If you are somehow suggesting that the University of Michigan isn't contributing anything to the Ann Arbor economy, you're talking through your hat.


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 12:17 p.m.

All this talk of privatizing transportation and custodial services is fine but it will not solve the money issues for any of the school districts. The vast majority of costs is teachers and administrators. They must share in the pain and take reasonablle cuts to their salaries, healthcare and retirment.


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 11:54 a.m.

The comment from the union unit steward shows how lucky members are and just don't understand what the rest of us are going through.Most everyone has to pay at least 50% of their insurance and a 1% raise would be great.In that same four years I lost three jobs,spent 14 months unemployed and now make 50% less then four years ago.Doing more for less is the standard for workers today.The unions may not like it, but if they don't accept that fact they will be unemployed.Take a cut like the rest of us and hope to get it back when times improve. In these times any job is a good job.


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 11:29 a.m.

Ann Arbor, along with every other district in the county, hired private company PESG three school years ago to provide substitute teachers to the district. As a school employee having to work with these substitutes this is not perfect either. Don't get me wrong there are some wonderful subsititutes in this system but, wow some of them I wouldn't want in any classroom. Lots of people are out of work now and have the 90 credits to sub but not in the field of education. These people are now subbing in classrooms where they don't have a clue what they are doing and it seems fine with the big bosses who haven't been in a classroom with these people. Like I said before some of these people are wonderful but the ones who are not make for a very difficult day for the student and other staff.


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 11:09 a.m.

Bad idea...unless of course you want to union bus, privatize a few years then hire back at the district demands after privatizing isn't so great, a mechanical failure, a bad driver, an incident out of control. A better idea is making the kids congregate less frequently, bottom of street, allowing for less stops, consider redistricting, consider different more fuel efficient buses, encourage walking to school, remember that? consider K-8 buildings, in neighborhoods... Think outside the box. Privatizing=pirateering.

The Picker

Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 9:27 a.m.

Perhaps its time to eliminate school busing altogether and utilize the under used AATA system. Redundant systems are entrenched through-out local, state, and federal govts. Maybe its time to break-up these expensive union fueled feifdoms.


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 8:38 a.m.

True, the purpose is to educate our children, however that requires people, and as a parent, I trust in my school districts administrators and elected school board members to hire competent, trustworthy employees. By privatizing, we would have to depend on profit minded individuals to make these choices. I believe that it's possible to keep current our employees in place if EVERYONE is willing to work together. Yes, that may mean giving up something but wouldn't that be better than losing jobs altogether?

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 8:28 a.m.

There is no inherent reason why privatization should be cheaper. Indeed because of the need to turn a profit, all other things being equal, privatization should, in theory, cost more. If it in fact saves money the only logical explanation I see is that the savings come by reducing the cost of labor.


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 7:34 a.m.

Union labor is more expensive and it is difficult to remove bad workers. Privatizing will lower the costs and in my opinion provide better services.

Lisa Starrfield

Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 12:16 a.m.

Privatization will not save money. It will simply result in a lot of poorer workers and one or two growing fat on school funding.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 10:42 p.m.

"Has anyone considered how many more people in this state will be unemployed when schools start privatizing?" The purpose of schools is not to employ people. The purpose is to educate children.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 10:19 p.m.

Students cross Packard (with the help of a crossing guard) to the same school. The majority of parents find a way to get their kids to school safely. For some schools, few children are served by the buses. I would just like to see an explanation for who gets serves and why. It's a select few at some schools - when you see buses with 5 kids on them, and people want to get rid of teachers, it's time to question everything.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 10:11 p.m.

To the person who suggested that students cross Washtenaw to get to Burns Park: I can't see that as being a safe option. As to privatizing: Do you really want some private company who is trying to squeeze out profits deciding who drives your children? The city of A2 really needs to find a way to locally tax the U-M, so that it pays its way. The research facilities generate a lot of money for the U, and they need to pay property taxes to support community services that their workers utilize.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 10:10 p.m.

"Pinckney schools in Livingston County privatized its bus fleet years ago." Reports indicate that Pinckney deeply regretted it's move to privatize. There is a story there that no media seems too interested in covering. It belies the myth that privatization is great once you get it done. Tell us, A2.Com, what happened in Pinckney?


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 10:02 p.m.

Most of the support for privatization in these comments, and in general, I think, seems to be based on the naive and frankly wrong notion that privatization saves money automatically. One said of the food service, "It might be a financial success, but it would be interesting to see how many fewer kids are eating hot lunches since the change." I have heard that the kids like the "private food" less than they liked the "public food." I've also heard that the private company (Chartwells food service) isn't making much of a profit, due to reduced sales volumes. So, the District is "supplementing" them by transferring it's vending machine contracts to them (or something like that). We're looking into the original claims by the District that they'd save something like half a million dollars with private food. I don't think that they have, but the numbers will prove it. So much for it being a "success." And don't forget, bad nutrition affects test scores and attitude. You don't have to privatize to lower costs or streamline operations. And if you do, you ultimately increase costs.

Anonymous Commentor

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 9:52 p.m.

Well said, Chai! Privatization is not the answer to our schools' woes.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 9:48 p.m.

I have no skin in this game, but what bother me is this is just another gov't failure. We hired people to run the school system, ang they hire somebody else to do it for them. Complete failure! F-


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 9:40 p.m.

I am one of two Unit Stewards for the (about 139) bus drivers and (about 35) monitors. We are Teamsters Local 214. I'm not too surprised by privatization, given the sorry state of funding from state and federal government. But we know that out-sourcing our services won't solve the funding problem, and will hurt the District budget in the long-run. So, there's some anger, and a lot of fear. There is a real sense of insecurity. You don't know if you'll have a job, or if the job you may have will provide any benefits at all. Even the threat of privatization causes immediate disruptions in our lives and on the bus. Our Department has spent the past 5 or 6 years cutting costs for the District. Our members have taken less than 1% in raises on average over the past 5 years. We pay up to 50% of our insurance premiums and some workers take home the same amount -or less than- what they pay for health insurance. It's incredible to think that the District would sell us off to privateers who will have to wring profits out of us by squeezing our wages and especially benefits. We work very hard for the community, and we don't want to be auctioned off to the lowest bidder. I'm encouraged that the union representing Custodians, Mechanics and Technicians (AFSCME Local 1182) is spearheading the effort to inform residents and organize opposition to privatization. I'm working to get my union leadership's formal endorsement on this campaign. I and other individual drivers and monitors plan to join custodians and help educate the community about this. We want to keep our jobs in the public sector. The author of the story, David Jesse, asked me to comment via email, about one hour before the piece was published. I was driving my bus at the time!

Otto Mobeal

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 8:52 p.m.

I thought "privatizing" was just another dead fad like disco, bell bottoms, and whitey tighties. It always sounds great, but usually ends up costing the same or more than school controlled programs. Arguments for privatization:. 1. Private bus drivers and janitors are cheaper, because they are paid less and have less benefits. Why? In case you didn't notice, there is a recession and desperate people will work for less. This could change VERY quickly. When Clinton was president we were near full employment, and every professional driver was getting top dollar.. 2. The schools don't need to cough up the money for a few new buses every year. Yes they do, but they won't own the buses, the privateers will. The privateers then hold all of the cards for a monopoly on the bus business. Since the schools won't directly own the buses, the cost of re-entry is prohibitive.. 3. Private janitors and bus drivers can be fired for non-performance. Yes, but they also can be fired for no reason, so there is no job protection. Don't know much about A2 janitors or bus drivers, but there should be non-performance clauses in their contracts.. 4. Overhead is lower, reducing costs. If the overhead is lower, then the schools should work on that. Privateers are about the MONEY, and they aren't going to bid on a loss. While they need to perform the job safely, same as the school employees, there are corners that are cut.. Instead they should reduce busing, why bus High School (or middle school) students if they live within 1 mile of their school? Do all of the teams need buses? Eliminate buses on weekends. Buy buses, maybe maintain buses, as a Washtenaw Intermediate Schools function instead of community by community program.. Maybe look at closing Community HS, by integrating it into one of the other high schools. Moth ball Pioneer, or Skyline for a few years. Rate all non-teachers by their effect on direct student development - get rid of everyone that doesn't meet the student development standard. This doesn't need to be permanent, just long enough to survive this recession.

Steven Harper Piziks

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 7:39 p.m.

" and the custodian at our school takes a lot of time to interact with the students." "Aren't they supposed to be, you know, cleaning stuff?" When custodians are in the halls at the same time as kids, they do talk to them. (Wouldn't you?) They help them get stuck lockers open, break up fights, bring sick kids to the office, and help kids who get lost on the first day of school find the bathroom. A custodian in my building collects returnable bottles and cans from wastebaskets and uses the money as a fund for kids who forgot their lunch money. So no, custodians don't just, you know, clean stuff.

Jim Mulchay

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 7:35 p.m.

Is this something that could be explored on a county-basis? In other words have the bus contract cover the entire county and funded through WISD? That might be less expensive than each district having its own contract.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 7:35 p.m.

Has anyone considered how many more people in this state will be unemployed when schools start privatizing? What happens when the intial contracts expire and the private companies begin raising their prices to compensate for underbidding the original contract. Eventually, they will be profiting off of us, where will it stop? The school districts don't profit off of transportation! We need to look at other means of saving money, maybe start with not providing busing to students within the schools predetermined walking distance. Maybe ALL school employees need to agree to take consessions, no one should be exempt. I know that there are no easy answers but I would hope that all other possibilities are considered before privatizing.

John of Saline

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 7:01 p.m.

" and the custodian at our school takes a lot of time to interact with the students." Ok. Aren't they supposed to be, you know, cleaning stuff?

Susan Montgomery

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 6:55 p.m.

School taxes are not a fee for service that only those with children should pay. It's about providing an education to ALL children so that we have an educated city 15 years from now. We also pay for parks that we don't necessarily all go to, for libraries that we don't all use, support the local community college and senior center even if we don't use them, but they all make for a better town for ALL of us. For those of us who grew up here, plenty of people without children paid taxes so that we could have an outstanding education. It's time for us to pay back and pass it on to the next generation. I WAS wondering though, whether could look into how much money ended up being saved by privatizing the lunch programs? It would be interesting to see how the actual figures matched the projections...


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 6:39 p.m.

I like this idea. But then again Since 60%+ of my property taxes goto schools and I don't have any children I would be in favor of almost any cuts by the schools.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 6:32 p.m.

How about they start by looking at the huge number of non-instructors at Skyline? Do they really need three principals, five guidance counselors, and a social worker? The food outsourcing has brought smaller portions, occasional shortages, and pizza the kids won't eat. It might be a financial success, but it would be interesting to see how many fewer kids are eating hot lunches since the change. One of the problems is that the previous school board forced a vote on an expensive, monstrous new high school when a much smaller, 500 student one would have sufficed.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 6:17 p.m.

@DangyJ To use your own lame analogy as to how we are treating out kids (vinyl records) don't need music.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 6 p.m.

How many other districts do NOT outsource busing? @Tom, times have changed. We don't listen to vinyl records anymore either.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 5:38 p.m.

I would like to see the district reconsider to whom busing is provided. Is it necessary to bus kids to Bach who live within 2 miles to the school? Is it really necessary to bus kids to Burns Park school just because they live across Washtenaw Ave? What are the criteria? Are the standards being reconsidered? There are certainly students who come from far enough away to merit bus service, but it seems that at least some of it is extravagant in these tough times.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 5:35 p.m.

This is another bad Idea. The transportation of the kids to and from school is not only a safety issue, but also a liability issue on the district to ensure the children are properly cared for and transported to and from school safely and on time. Giving this to the lowest bidder will surly give the poorest service possible. It's time the community stepped up to the plate and approves a special assessment for the schools. When we adults were kids, our parents made sure that sufficient tax dollars were collected to make the schools one of the top districts in Michigan. We never had to pay to play sports, or worry about how we were going to get to school. Sure times are tough but the schools are the key to ensure your real estate retains it's value due to being within a top performing school district and our kids are properly educated. Time we think of our children before ourselves for a change. I say a definate NO! to outsourcing the busing.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 5:20 p.m.

Before anyone talks about how bad private bus companies are and the lack of background checks required. A quick call to the State Police is in order. They indicated the same checks are required for all bus drivers - private or school employees. Same for janitors. As to bus drivers, in the last 3 weeks my children have seen 5 substitute bus drivers on their bus. So while the regulars are good people, I have to admit my children see more different bus drivers than they do the regulars on their routes. If I was choosing between cutting teachers and privatizing janitors and buses, I would choose buses and janitors. That being said, the contracts have to be written in a fashion that the schools get clean and the buses are safe. I appreciate the effort the district is going to in finding out what the savings might be. I do have to wonder if implementation of the busing study might provide yet more savings?