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Posted on Fri, May 24, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Eliminating high school busing: Trustee proposes morning-only option

By Danielle Arndt


Pioneer High School students board an Ann Arbor Transportation Authority bus on the first day of school in September. More students may be taking the public transit to get to class in the AAPS, if the school board approves the administration's recommendation to eliminate high school busing. file photo

Editor's note: The percentage of eligible high school students who ride the bus has been corrected in this article, from 24 percent to 29 percent.

Ann Arbor school board members continue to weigh the possibility of eliminating high school transportation for fall.

The proposal to no longer provide high school busing could save the Ann Arbor Public Schools about $466,000 on its way to closing an $8.67 million budget gap for the 2013-14 academic year.

But the degree to which trustees are willing to pull the trigger on the service varies greatly across the board.

Two trustees, Simone Lightfoot and Susan Baskett, have said they would be willing to get rid of transportation entirely — for all grades K-12 — if it meant the district's piecemeal, cut-a-little-every-year approach to transportation would come to an end.

Lightfoot would like to see school leaders putting their time and energy into developing more sustainable and innovative ideas for transportation than this annual "slicing away" of one component after the other, she said on May 15. AAPS already has implemented fewer bus stops district wide and expanded its walk zones.

Administrators proposed the cut to high school transportation in April, and earlier this month board members agreed to leave the proposal on the table for now.

The board has until June 30 to finalize cuts and pass a balanced budget.

Cutting transportation is a controversial topic that has residents and board members alike concerned about the impact. Citizens against the cut say it's a budget reduction that disproportionately affects low-income and at-risk students.

"Getting all students to school safely and efficiently should be a priority," said Joan Doughty, executive director of Ann Arbor's Community Action Network and the creator of a petition against the cuts to busing. "If students don't attend school, they cannot graduate. The future for high school dropouts is a bleak one; and ultimately, we all will pay a heavy price."

At Wednesday's regular meeting, board Secretary Andy Thomas asked district administrators to look into the savings that could be generated from offering just morning busing and not afternoon busing — the idea being that then students have a better shot at getting to school to learn.

District spokeswoman Liz Margolis told Thursday that the estimated savings would be half of $466,000, so $233,000. But district officials will need to explore the legality of this, to see whether providing one-way busing is allowed.

She explained the state's regulation of public school transportation is complicated. The state does not mandate that schools provide transportation for students. However, if districts do provide busing, they cannot charge for transportation. Districts also must provide transportation in a way that is equitable.

Margolis said about 1,270 students or 24 percent of all eligible riders at the high schools actually use the bus service available to them. Last year, as part of the budget cuts, AAPS cut three high school bus runs — one at each of the comprehensive high schools — and replaced them with Ann Arbor Transportation Authority routes, requiring students to take public transit to and from school each day.

Getting rid of those three runs in the end saved the Ann Arbor Public Schools about $37,500.

The district purchased AATA bus passes last year for those students that were affected by the change. AATA charged the district a discounted rate of 50 cents per ride, compared to the normal 75 cents per ride for students on AATA buses.

If all high school transportation is eliminated, the district would no longer be able to provide students on those three AATA routes with bus passes, Margolis said. This is because the district legally cannot provide free bus service to some students and not others, and most of Ann Arbor's high school students live outside of AATA's service area, she said.

If the school board decides not to eliminate high school busing, there are three more high school bus runs AAPS could cut and replace with AATA routes for some savings. Margolis said each bus run that is replaced would save the district $12,500. There is one middle school run that could be replaced as well, but Margolis said officials still need to explore how residents would feel about middle-schoolers using public transportation.

Doughty and the Community Action Network have a number of dogs in the fight for maintaining high school busing.

The organization, which provides housing stabilization and educational services for low-income adults and families in Ann Arbor, fears it would likely be faced with increased challenges with students skipping class and having to help families get their kids to school.

CAN's Green-Baxter Court neighborhood is located along the bus run to Huron High School that was cut last year and replaced with an AATA route. Doughty said by eliminating high school transportation and the AATA bus passes, the district is shifting the burden onto its low-income, underserved families and organizations, such as CAN, that already are striving to help students get to school and succeed in every capacity they can.

CAN provides tutors and homework help to teens, she said.

Doughty added most of CAN's families don't have cars and don't have steady employment. Even at the discounted student rate, AATA bus fares would cost families $25 to $30 per month to get their student to school and if a family has multiple students, that can be very expensive.

"Many of the families we serve are extremely low income. They'd run out of food at the end of the month if not for us," Doughty said, adding recently the organization looked at its Hikone neighborhood and of the 26 families living there, just six or seven have working parents. "The rest tend to have mental health or physical or cognitive challenges or disabilities."

Reggie Dalton, director of the Hikone Community Center, said at the Hikone neighborhood, of the 26 families living there, about 17 to 20 families have cars and at any given time, and maybe 8 to 10 of them work.

Hikone students attend Pioneer, and that's about a 3 mile walk if they don't take AATA. Skipping class already is a problem, as the high-schoolers right now are required to walk a mile to their bus stop, which is at Allen Elementary School.

"It's just going to give the kids another excuse not to go to school," Dalton said of transportation being eliminated entirely. "When it's 10 degrees outside and 4 inches of snow ... they're not going to go."

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Sat, May 25, 2013 : 9:56 p.m.

Around here, kids will have to walk as much as 3 miles AND THEN take AATA. The commute could take hours. There are many low-income apartments and mobile homes around here. As much as I don't care for the ACLU, it is probably time to start talking equal protection and equal rights. No buses will hurt the poor on the outskirts of town the most.


Sat, May 25, 2013 : 6:53 p.m.

If AATA made people pay to ride instead of giving free service to most people, they wouldn't have this problem.

Nick Danger

Sat, May 25, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

The cars you see in the Huron and Pioneer parking lots don't belong to the kids from the projects.Cutting transportation for economically disadvantaged kids is a crime


Sat, May 25, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

I'd like for the decision makers in this situation to go sit at the Transit center both here and in Ypsi, and watch some of those that currently ride AATA., and they say they think it's a "good idea" to let our kids ride a bus with the general public. HAVE YOU SEEN SOME OF THESE PEOPLE? As a former EMU student, and resident of NYC, even I didn't like using AATA. It is no longer 1950, walking miles to get to school, & riding public transportation is NOT what it used to be.. SAFE.


Sat, May 25, 2013 : 11:23 a.m.

As the parent of a child just starting school, I find this very disturbing. "There is one middle school run that could be replaced as well, but Margolis said officials still need to explore how residents would feel about middle-schoolers using public transportation." Are you kidding me? You want to let a 10-13 yr old ride a public bus with some of the whack jobs that also ride it? Most Bus drivers are already oblivious to their passengers. I plan on taking my own child to school every day, with the crazies that seem to be crawling out of the woodwork lately, he'll be lucky if he doesn't wind up being home schooled!


Sat, May 25, 2013 : 2:19 a.m.

It looks likes fair amount of the kids from low income housing may need bussing. If all or most of them can't pay, it's unreasonable to expect other parents to pick up the tab. If 400 kids from each high school want to ride the bus,and 300 can't pay, the other 100 won't want to pay four times as much. Sounds like legally, the district can't help with this either. It's all or none. Good effort, though. Are you employed by SelectRide?


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 3:48 a.m.

So if SelectRide, a private service, busses your daughter for $1 per day, and the nine other kids at her stop can't afford to pay, you are willing to foot the bill personally for all of them? $10 per day, times 20 school days per month= $200 per month, prepaid, and you feel that's reasonable? More power to you. My kids dont take the bus, as the hour of sleep is far more valuable. I'm talking about the private service, which cannot legally be funded by AAPS. Read happydaves post below. This has nothing to do with district provided free bussing. It's if busing is privatized. That's why I brought up payment- since legally the district cannot charge anyone.

Basic Bob

Sun, May 26, 2013 : 2:57 a.m.

"it's unreasonable to expect other parents to pick up the tab" Actually I thought it was quite reasonable. Everyone pays for schools, even people who don't have children. The district can provide transportation at a reasonable cost, and they should. It is as much of a public service as putting a teacher in every classroom.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

It seems to me that the best option would be to privatize the transportation through Select Ride, with parents picking up the cost at about $1 per day, payable monthly. If they would operate a bus, using existing pickup/drop off points, that might be a win/win/win situation. These would not be charter buses, thus would not be in violation of federal law, or state law for that matter. Instead, it would be a parent contracted taxi service designed to get the kids to school in the morning and home in the afternoon.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:35 p.m.

Won't pay is easy.... Don't pay, don't ride... Can't pay is more difficult... Cost could be spread among all, however the answer for this issue is most likely negotiable


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

Again, WHO will pay for those who cant or won't pay?


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

More constructive comments and solutions are warranted. I grew up economically disadvantaged. Mom worked two jobs. Dad was disabled. The high school I was districted for was several miles away, in not so great an area. We lived near the border for the district cutoff for the closer high school that was preferable, but not an option- you had to go where you were districted. My parents sent me to a private school beyond their means. I worked in the cafeteria all four years to help pay for school. I got an after school job walking distance from the school as a sophomore, then two jobs as a junior and senior. I walked two miles each way to school. By myself. Rain, snow, traffic. Where there is a will, there is a way. I have a college degree, and I have ALWAYS been able to support myself, even as a single parent. You do what you have to do. A hand out is not always a hand up. Ask people what they need, don't assume it. Constructive solutions. Involve those affected, and quit whining.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

Well, that's better than eliminating it altogether which would require the hiring of at least several more truant officers. This way, it only gives high school kids a chance to get in trouble on the way home. And we know some kids this age will find trouble even if they have to look for it. And then there's the boy who got beaten up near Pioneer High recently, apparently by someone not from school. No school bus home would give people like that more targets.

Usual Suspect

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 7:18 p.m.

There is more to the point than whether a person is "serviced" by a bus route. The bus routes in this town are hub-focused; the buses don't travel about the city, they go away from and toward downtown. But nobody goes to school downtown. You might be "serviced" by a bus route, but to get to school many students would have to go downtown first, hangout for a while at Blake Transit Center with the questionable clientele there, and then take another bus back out of downtown.


Sat, May 25, 2013 : 9:26 p.m.

Unless the AATA figures out how to fix their own deficit i doubt they will offer new service routes unless there is a financial incentive for them to do so, unfortunately.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

I'm sure if AATA did take over AAPS busing they would modify the routes to accommodate the schools. BTC is not equipped to handle that many K12 kids loitering there

Ann Arbor Mom

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

Why not give parents the option to pay the same discounted rate ($1 per day) for school buses? This would probably generate funding --


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

Ann Arbor Mom - State law prevents this option.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 6:27 p.m.

The real problem to be solved, is how many students who would take the bus NEXT year are within current AATA routes. How many can find a carpool, or drive? How many are left without ANY transportation? Some parents may put their kids on the bus now because it's there. Or it's convenient. Or they can sleep in. I could, but choose to drive so my kids can sleep another hour before school. The bottom line is the issue. Would, not could, the district issue a survey that is divided by school asking these questions? Then perhaps problem solving in each area can take place. Also, those who go to school of choice, you have a choice. If walking to your districted school is feasible, but you CHOOSE to go farther away to another, it would seem that is your responsibility. I realize the reverse is true for some, which is a shame. Some are closer to one high school, but districted for a different one. Be part of the solution, not the problem. Then perhaps parents can plan meetings to see if they can work out carpools, etc. in each neighborhood.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:36 p.m.

Wow, and they figured that out all by themselves? Great, lets see what others can do if they work together. Does Ann Arbor Open still have busses?


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

I don't believe that busing is provided if you choose to attend a school other than your neighborhood school - parents are responible for getting those kids to and from school already.

Danielle Arndt

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

The percentage of eligible high school students who ride the bus has been changed from 24 percent to 29 percent in this article to reflect the correct figure. I apologize for the error.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

Danielle - How do they define "eligible students" Is it: 1) Students who live beyond the current walk zone 2) All in district students 3) All students who attend their local school - not including schools of choice 4) All students who attend the school I would love to see a breakdown of: 1) How many students are in the existing walk zone 2) How many students are on the existing bus routes 3) How full the buses are when the arrive? (e.g. is the bus in question 29% full, or do they plan for fewer students to get on the bus?) 4) If you subtract 7th hour and athletes from the totals - do the numbers change for ridership? 5) Is there a significant difference morning and evening? 6) For 9th grade is the percentage higher? These would be useful things to know. If the 29 percent was all students and it was more like 45% of the students outside the walk zone and 75% of the 9th and 10th graders, that would tell you something important. Right now the aggregate number is not very helpful, but I appreciate you fixing it. Also - what are they going to do with students who arrive early and have to wait at the end of the day - leave them outside (current practice) or are they going to offer them a place out of the weather and if so, what is the cost of doing that?

Annette Poole

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

My step-son will be starting 9th grade at Pioneer in the fall. If they ended up just getting rid of the PM rides and could possibly work with the AATA to offer reduced fares (50 cents?), I would feel comfortable with having my step-son come home via bus that way.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

The obvious solution is to use the AATA and adjust routes where necessary to make sure all students can easily get to school. AAPS has already identified students who need financial help via the free and reduced lunch program. Why can't AAPS give free AATA bus passes to those already-identified students to ensure that they will be able to get to school? AATA will have to work out with AAPS how to fund this. Still, using a set of buses that are already driving around the city makes more sense than running high school buses if only 24% of the high school students use them. My 12th grade Community student has been taking the AATA for the past 4 years, and my 10th grade Huron student has been taking the AATA home for the past 2 years after 7th hour classes. It's worked very well.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 3:55 a.m.

Only 24-29% of students currently ride the bus. So AT LEAST 50% or more of those outside AATA find a way to school now, without school busses.

Gretchen Ridenour

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

What about the 75% of the AAPS district that AATA doesn't service? Being able to afford the bus fare doesn't help if AATA doesn't go that far into the townships. Surely AATA's master plan currently does not include adding routes to transport AAPS students to school. t takes a village.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

Hikone is less than a mile from Allen Elementary. It's 0.8 miles IF you take Easy Street, certainly shorter if you cut through Buhr Park, but google maps won't show that. I walked a mile to and from school elementary through middle school. "It's just going to give the kids another excuse not to go to school" Are you serious? That's conceding that students and their families are not responsible for their own transportation to and from school, the district is responsible for transporting them all, and anyone who lives over a mile from a bus stop is being oppressed so badly that they refuse to go to school in protest?!?! "It's not my fault, it's the district's for moving the bus stop further from my house"?!?!?! This is absolutely ludicrous. If a half mile walk through the snow is enough to "give the kids another excuse not to go to school", the kids probably weren't going to go to school anyways. Why don't they take responsibility, be resourceful and find some neighbor kids to carpool with or suck it up and walk?


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 3:41 p.m. I challenge you to name a single point within the district on this map that is over 14 miles from a high school. Also, nobody is arguing that kids should be walking across highways or walking 14 miles to school. The article complained that a "one mile walk", which was really about a half mile walk, TO A BUS STOP, was encouraging kids to skip school. How you're interpreting that as I think kids ought to walk 14 miles playing frogger across highways is beyond me.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 7:43 p.m.

TB - check the map before you say it hardly that size. From the corners of the district to the high schools can be a long way via roads, now if you had a helicopter, I might agree with you. Remember there are limited crossing for M-14, US-23 and I-94 and I for one would not want my children playing chicken with the traffic on one of those roads to take a short cut.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

The district is hardly even 14 miles long from any one point to another, if any student lives that far from their school then they likely aren't going to the school they live in the boundaries of, which if they choose to do that they ought to plan to arrange transportation. I'm sure they have A bus to A school they can attend that stops within a mile of their house, I'm not suggesting they walk 14 miles. AAPS is too PC to actually get rid of their buses, but hypothetically if they were to announce today that there would be no more buses in the fall, every parent of every child in the district ought to be able to orchestrate some form of transportation for their child by the time school starts. There are thousands of others in the same situation. Carpool, find a friend whose house is within walking distance of the school who is willing to watch them before school. Excellent opportunity for stay-at-home parents to be entrepreneurs and start a daycare for their kids and their friends. There are plenty of solutions, while understandably are not as ideal as getting a free bus ride everyday for many, that don't involve pumping a ton of money into the poorly managed and inefficient AAPS.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

TB - How about 14 miles?

Chase Ingersoll

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

The public school bureaucracy is like the fable of the man who tore the clapboard off his house to feed his furnace. In the end he was neither warm, or sheltered. Fortunately the young citizens have a real "CHOICE" (oh how we know you all love that word when it comes to other matters, but won't like it used here), and I for one hope that they are informed of this one: Oh I can hear the PRO-CHOICER's to abortion, but NO-CHOICER's to education alternatives knee jerk response is going to be, "...what about the children that can't afford internet...?" Like bus passes internet service is also subsidized for those who could not otherwise afford it.

Joe Hood

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

Nice answer to the maladies of broken system. My kids have always pined to be home schooled; I wouldn't mind doing that but my job makes the money and my wife likes her job.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

It looks like some very difficult decisions must be made. Do we as a district cut back on providing busing to families that need that resource to help provide travel to and from school? That service has been provided for many decades and many people have come to rely on it. Do we cut back on the services to the "at risk" students that need that intervention to grow in their learning? We are going to have to make some major changes in the school district. In order to do that some schools are going to have to be consolidated and districts redrawn. That is the only way we can provide a decent education to our children. To continue down this current path is only going to prolong the decline. We will slowly "bleed out" to the charter schools. We need some bold leadership on the BOE that are willing to stand up and make some difficult decisions. Unfortunately I don't see that leadership on the Ann Arbor BOE.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

Lower the driving age to 13 like we had many years ago. Teaching kids resposibility and how to manage thier money is importaint. We seem to want to restrain and control our youth , unlike our parents did. When I was a kid taking the bus was for preps and pawns, We walked in the snow and sun always wearing tennies.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

20 miles, all uphill, both ways, right...? ;^)


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

Lost in the shuffle is the role of the state. Funding has been cut severely in all districts under the Snyder administration and there is a project by some of his cronies, called SKUNK, which is quite mysterious. A lot of deficits, including AAPS is partly because of the underfunding by the state. The increase in charter schools, started by Snyder's pals John Engler and company in the 1990's has led to student exits statewide. I for one believe the SKUNK project is an underground attempt to further privatize public schools. The question to ask, is will public education even exit as we know it a decade from now. The survival of all public schools, AAPS included, is at stake.


Sat, May 25, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

This whole debacle is in the hands of this State's administration. We have an uber capitalist governor who wants to convert our education model to - if not a "for profit" -then a "break even" fiscal model. Investment in education is an investment in the people and future of our society. It is not frivolous or expendable. I would love to see Snyder removed from office.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

"It has been disbanded." Hmmmm... Considering that the group never officially existed (all communications were between personal email addresses), being told it's been disbanded doesn't really carry a lot of weight. ;^)


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

hawkhulk - The news called the private group who was doing this a "skunkworks". It has been disbanded. Governor Snyder did NOT put the group together, but one of his staff members was a member of the group. I truly doubt given my conversations with him when his son was at Huron as a student that Governor Snyder wants to harm public schools. I do believe he wants to make efficient use of the taxes the state collects and try to fix the budget to make Michigan work better as a state. If you look at the dance he did with Detroit to try to get them to fix themselves, I think you see a governor who went out of his way to try and let the city government resolve their own problems.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1 p.m.

Has there been mention of the 4:30 late bus for middle schools being cut? I thought it was saved last year, but I haven't seen mention of it. I would think the late bus would be considered an *extra* if high schoolers don't have a bus for the school day.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

How much are the late busses even utilized? My kid never takes one, since sports go past 4:30, and are every day. Are there mostly sixth graders?

Liz Margolis

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

The middle school afterschool bus was eliminated last year but it was then funded by the PTO Thrift Shop - generous support very much appreciated! Unless AAPS finds funding again for next year the service will be discontinued. We will notify families by the end of this school year in regards to this service.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

Is that just this year?


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

The middle school late bus program was saved due to a donation by the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift shop.

Usual Suspect

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

"Margolis said about 1,270 students or 24 percent of all eligible riders at the high schools actually use the bus service available to them." If some of the routes weren't schedule in a way that they drop the kids at middle school 30-45 minutes before the bell, we would utilize the bus.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

"most of Ann Arbor's high school students live outside of AATA's service area, she said". Is that correct? I know my kids live outside AATA's service area. I drive them to school in the morning but they take the school bus home because it is the middle of the afternoon and both my husband and I are at work (like a lot of other parents!) AND there is no AATA route that gets them anywhere near out house. But it sounds like there would be widespread transportation challenges. And I agree: the cuts would target the most vulnerable kids and basically give a lot of kids the excuse to cut school if just getting there is a problem. They should worry about their classes and exams, NOT how they're going to get to, or home from, school.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

jmac - AATA covers about 24% of the AAPS district, if you allow a 1/2 mile walk zone to a bus line route (not a bus stop) in some places it would be another 1/3 of a mile to the actual bus stop. Yes, most of the students live outside this coverage area. The longest walk for a student to their current school is approximately 14 miles.

Barb's Mom

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

If they eliminate busing to the High Schools, does that mean they eliminate all busing to High Schools? No more transporting kids from Community to Huron or Pioneer to take a class.


Sat, May 25, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

As we all know, since Community is a high school, if high school busing is eliminated, it will include Community. If people want their kids to go to Community, a school of choice, they will find a way.


Sat, May 25, 2013 : midnight

But there is busing in the am and pm to community from the other 3 high schools. So, yes that busing would be eliminated as well.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

That bussing is already eliminated. No midday bussing from Community.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

If you eliminate busing, how much is it going to cost the district to open the buildings for drop off in the morning and keep the buildings open for pickup in the evening or is the district going to just push children out into the snow bank immediately after school and lock the doors? Can you see a Kindergartner pushed out the door on a day when it is zero to wait for a parent who was (unknown to anyone) involved in an auto accident on the way to pick up their child? Even a 9th Grader? So what is the cost trade off to have a place for these children to wait for their rides?


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

I see loitering being a huge problem both in the morning and in the afternoon. How many parents can leave work at 2:30 in the afternoon to pick up their kids? Also, I can't even imagine what a nightmare the traffic back up will be when 1600 kids are dropped off at the high schools in individual cars. Taking your kid to school will literally take an hour...most of it waiting in a slow slog of cards inching along.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

CLX, good idea. Perhaps kids would be encouraged to participate in a club ( which looks good on a college app.), or get their behinds moving playing a sport. Options, at least. Perhaps kids can get the extra academic help they need. I've seen in the Skyline emails, at least, that on of the math teachers offers after school extra help.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

They're not talking about kindergarten kids, and for the record, teachers of kindergarten kids wait with the kids until a parent show up. Parents do get delayed, and at least in the elementary schools, those kids wait up in the school office until the parent can get there. As for older kids, there are often study clubs available after school, so perhaps that can be expanded a bit at a minimal cost.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

Schools are not day care centers. It is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that their child's needs are taken care of including the need for transportation and the need for supervision outside of school hours.

$5,000 is just pennies

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

The High School unadvertised policy is to push students out the door after school is finished. They neither want to nor have the personnel to supervise students after school who have no reason to be in the building. After school congregating can also lead to discipline issues such as theft, fights, property misuse and similar problems when some students are left unsupervised.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

"Margolis said about 1,270 students or 24 percent of all eligible riders at the high schools actually use the bus service available to them." That seems low? I'm curious how they calculated that percentage. Did they measure ridership in just the morning, or just the afternoon, or both ways? If it was the afternoon only, would the calculation take all the kids that participate after school activities to be excluded out of the calculation. Do the high schools provide a late afternoon bus for students who are in ex-curricular activities?


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

We live outside city limits, and I hardly ever see high school kids walking to or from the bus stop. Everyone either gets a ride or drives.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

I am very curious about that number as well. It would be very nice to know how the other 75% gets to school, and whether there could be viable options for the remaining 25%.

Charles Curtis

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

Has there every been a discussion of chartering AATA buses? Seems like that may help everyone and its all coming out of our taxes now. Wonder if its possible to just use AATA and charter AATA for areas they dont service normally?


Sat, May 25, 2013 : 9:20 p.m.

Charter busses have way more flexibility than school busses. And space for sports equipment that is lacking on a school bus.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

@Kris charter buses are more expensive then using school buses. For example Getaway charges a minimum of $500.00 for the first 3 hours to ware as school buses charges by the hour.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

If the teams are paying for the busses, sure. But if the AAPS cuts busses, paying for charters kind of defeats the purpose. How much $ would be saved? If the AATA doesn't cover most of the bussing needed, that's a whole lot of busses to charter.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

I've noticed some high school athletic teams are now using charter buses. I was told they are cheaper than using AAPS buses.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

Chartering just sounds like more $ anyways.

Liz Margolis

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

AATA is not allowed to charter service under Federal law.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

I attended K-12 schools in three cities, Pontiac, Detroit and Dayton, Ohio. I never caught a school bus once. I either walked, or in my latter years in Detroit rode the city bus. The idea of chartering with AATA indeed sounds like a good idea.

In doubt

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

Gee..........seems like the State of Michigan would have something to say in this. If I am not mistaken, the state makes you send your children to school, so I believe that it has been stated that they are legally liable for the child's safety from the moment they step out the door until they return home. ? Also, if they eliminate this busing will the state take the funds that they provide for busing?


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 9:43 p.m.

Special Ed is the only mandate AAPS would have to offer. Nothing else. Sounds fair don't you? Not.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 6:40 p.m.

The State does not provide money for busing, and the schools are not liable for students "from the moment they step out the door." For goodness sake, there are good arguments for busing, but enough with having the schools solely responsible for your kid's education, transportation, food, and everything else that they now provide to many families. Let's focus on the neediest families only.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

If that were the case, all districts would be required to have busing and they do not.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

Unless the State were to change legislation, schools are not required to provide transportation for students. See this FAQ on the MDE website:,4615,7-140-6530_6569_38338-137337--,00.html So, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to do so. Also, when it states that "It is the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian to see that a child gets safely to and from the bus stop. The school district provides transportation as a non-mandated service and establishes placement of the bus stops in accordance with the requirements of the law." it would be logical to infer that if Transportation is not provided the responsibility of the parent/guardian then extends to getting their child(ren) to and from the school. Not that any of us, after looking at the morass of legislation, legal opinions, memos, etc., should expect logic.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:01 p.m.

How much do these "board retreats" cost, who pays for them and why are they needed?


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

Please tell me it was you who edited your story, Danielle.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : noon

Students need to be able to get to school. How is cutting bus routes helpful? How about cutting some of the higher-paying bureaucratic jobs at Balas? The hierarchy is ridiculous.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

I think we could make a list of those who top out at $100,000 at Balas don't you? Time to think early retirement for those in Balas. Get rid of top heavy Balas and save busing for the children who need the rides. Good grief BOE stop protecting Balas.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

So the district thinks saving $12500 for each bus run they cut is good. But cutting a $5000 snack budget from the board is bad. If your looking to close an $8.67 MILLION budget gap, you better sharpen your pencil and look and look at the larger line items in the budget. Nobody wants to talk about it but I'd guess employee benefits and retirement costs are a much bigger budget problem than transportation, athletics or performing arts. School is for the kids, not the employees... yes, you are all just employees to the tax payer.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

"So the district thinks saving $12500 for each bus run they cut is good. But cutting a $5000 snack budget from the board is bad." Actually, no, the district does not think that. The Board of Education does. The average employee (your term) does not feel that way. " Nobody wants to talk about it but I'd guess employee benefits and retirement costs are a much bigger budget problem..." Retirement costs are controlled by the State of Michigan, not the individual districts. The burden for retirement is the same for Detroit or Ironwood as it is for Ann Arbor. As for employee benefits (health care, dental, etc.), at AAPS they have been eroded and costs have been increased. They are no longer the 'free Cadillac-type' programs that I hear complained of here. As a matter of fact, in this article: The Mackinac Center for Public Policy says "It looks like they're (AAPS) kind of on the forefront in having employees contribute...". They're are a lot of areas that AAPS can improve in, no doubt. But we should at least try place the blame where it is due. The $5000 snack budget for the BOE, while not huge in a budget the size of AAPS's, is an indicator of the dysfunction of the current Board. Only one of them seems to understand the awful image that it gives the community of the BOE's priorities. It shows a lack of understanding of common sacrifice. However, as others have posted, we have the BOE that we've voted for. If we want something different we need to get people to run, and then we need to vote to remove the incumbent BOE members.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.

While on the one hand it makes sense to eliminate the afternoon run to make sure the kids get to school, one could argue the other way as well. In the morning, parents are more likely able to drop kids off on the way to work. In the middle of the afternoon, parents are more likely still at work and unable to pick their kids up. Either way, as a society we just don't seem willing to adequately fund school costs. And for all the whining and finger-pointing about this administrator salary or that food budget, the truth is that per student funding has been declining for years, which is a real tragedy and likely to cost us far more as a society in the long run.


Sat, May 25, 2013 : 1:21 a.m.

Well that would be OK Thoughtful. My son will get his license shortly before the start of the school year and we will have a car for him to drive. However, I won't allow him to drive anyone else for at least 3 months...too many distractions having friends in the car for a newly minted driver.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

How about driving one or two kids who live in the same neighborhood?


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 9:51 p.m.

Many parents don't want their kids driving home a carload of other kids who live all over town.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

Well, my high schooler does not have any friends who drive or other options in the afternoon to get home. I regularly work until 6 or 7 in the evening and I am his only source of transportation. If there is no bus he will be sitting at Pioneer waiting for me to arrive. and i am sure he will not be alone.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

Not everyone has a 9-5 job. When our girls were in school my wife and I had to be to work between 6 and 7 a.m. I think high schoolers would be more able to get a ride home in the afternoon with friends or other options and they also tend to have more after school activities.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 10:29 a.m.

Thank you for this well-reported article. Trustee Baskett referred to this situation at the AATA Board retreat on May 22. (She is a new AATA board member.) But much of the retreat was about how AATA will deal with its budget deficit. I am concerned that the expectation is that AATA will somehow pick up the cost of transporting students. I don't think that is likely to be practical. This looks to me as though families will have to bear much of the cost, which should be a concern.

Wake Up A2

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 10:12 a.m.

Sounds like someone wants to save their job. Well at least they can read how unhappy we all are. Question is, how will they vote when school is no longer in and folks are enjoying their summer? This seems to be the time when things go worse the normal when no one is looking.....


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

Sounds like someone on the BOE does not want mass recalls. Which is what will happen if they do what they are planning to do. The in joke at the high schools right now is this. Parents drop off the children at the hi school door as the parents are leaving for work. Sounds equitable to me. Make the teachers responsible? Don't think so.