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Posted on Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 5:56 a.m.

Late busing for Ann Arbor middle school students restored thanks to $86K in outside funding

By Danielle Arndt

Editor's note: Misinformation supplied by the Ann Arbor Public Schools district about the late busing schedule has been corrected in this article.

Middle-schoolers in Ann Arbor once again will have transportation home following sports practices and after-school activities.

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation and Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop have pledged up to $43,000 each, for a total of $86,000, to provide buses that the district recently cut.

The AAPSEF board announced its decision to fund the late busing program in a news release Thursday. About 187 students used this service in the spring.


After-school activity busing was restored for Ann Arbor middle school students.

Jeffrey Smith | file photo

The busing to Ann Arbor’s six middle schools was among the $3.84 million in expenditures the Ann Arbor Board of Education slashed in June to balance its budget for the upcoming school year. A portion of the foundation’s contribution is through a gift from the late James A. Norton, Jr.’s family and reflects Norton’s commitment to social justice and equal opportunities in education. Norton was a mathematician, a researcher and a teacher in the community.

“We are gratified to be able to leverage our resources with those of the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop to ensure all middle school students have the opportunity to take advantage of the many enriching after-school programs that are offered,” Omari Rush, the newly appointed chairman of the AAPSEF board, said in a statement. “We view this collaboration as a model for other businesses and nonprofit organizations to support programs in our public schools.”

District spokeswoman Liz Margolis said the late bus service, which picks up students at 4 p.m. from each middle school, primarily benefits students who stay after for clubs, tutoring and academic programs.

“Some sports for sixth-graders can use the late bus, since they start practice right after school,” she said. However, “seventh- and eighth-graders don’t start practice until 4:30 p.m., after the sixth-graders are done, so they would not use this bus service.”

The number of clubs at each middle school are as follows: 19 at Ann Arbor Open, 30 at Clague, 29 at Forsythe, 28 at Scarlett, 29 at Slauson and 36 at Tappan. The activities range from chess to gardening to law club, Ultimate Frisbee, robotics and the Good Samaritan Club, Margolis said.

The number of students that use the after-school bus service varies from season to season, depending on the number of clubs and sports offered in the fall, winter and spring, Margolis said. The district adjusts the number of buses it sends accordingly, said Thomas Moore, transportation director for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. Typically, one to three buses are deployed to each middle school.

School officials estimated more than 1,500 middle school students participate in after-school programs annually. About 187 students used the bus service in the spring, Margolis said, with an average of 37 students boarding buses per school. Scarlett had the greatest number of students at 55.

In the spring, two buses were sent to Scarlett, Slauson and Tappan; one to AAO; and three to Clague and Forsythe.

The buses ran three days per week last year: Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. They picked up students at 4:40 p.m. at Tappan, 5:15 p.m. at Scarlett and 4:30 p.m. at the other schools.

Moore said during the past two years that the WISD has operated the transportation consortium for Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Willow Run schools, all three districts have offered a late bus service to help students get home.

“Activity busing is not unusual, but not every district in the county has it,” he said. “It really just depends on the level of service the districts want to provide to their families.”

Moore said late busing is a challenge for even the most experienced bus drivers.

“Not all students are riding every day. So it can be difficult if a child needs a ride home today but not tomorrow.”

He said drivers have to know the area very well and often have to make dropoff adjustments on the fly.

“One (late) bus is often covering the same distance and routes that two or three buses would typically cover,” Moore said. “How to get students home (on the late bus) falls totally on the driver. They will usually start from east to west or south to north, depending on the school they’re servicing. So the challenge is knowing all the bus stops in that particular area.”

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



Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 8:30 p.m.

A very generous act by the Norton family. I hope those who may benefit from this will put it to good use & be thankful for this opportunity.

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

Slauson - average 10 kids per bus Tappan - 15 Clague -16 Forsythe - 17 Scarlett - 28


Sat, Jul 28, 2012 : 11:21 a.m.

I've actually seen full buses from Tappan. Not sure about the others.


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.

Three of my kids went through Clague and these buses were useless. After school activities included: soccer, basketball, volleyball, track - and between the three kids and the four sports we rode that bus exactly zero times - not because we didn't want to, but because we couldn't. I was NEVER available when practice was over. I would think the PTO would have better things to spend their money on, but it is their money, so it is up to them I suppose.


Sat, Jul 28, 2012 : 11:22 a.m.

The buses get em there. You have to pick em up. If you can't? The bus will drop them off at the school. Then they walk from there. Can we say AATA?

Jay Flannelly

Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

Great news here, Danielle--- huge issue with the crazy Michigan weather we deal with year round. Keep up the great work!

J. A. Pieper

Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

I hope everyone thanks the right people, just remember this is not coming from the AAPS, which it should be! Pretty sad when the schools have to depend on a Thrift shop for funding! So keep up your donations and shop there first, it's totally local!


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

O wow. That is going to really put a spin on transportation. Why? Because we now have to rewrite the bus routes or toss the ones that excluded the after school for the ones that had them previously. Don't you just love last minute decisions? Thanks for this and now the drivers will still have money in their pockets. Now, can we close Clemente and restore the choir budget?


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

This is definitely great news. I think it is one of those expenses that will pay in unforeseen dividends (letting kids stay for homework help, clubs, etc..). I am just curious, are all the donations to AAPSEF allowed to be delegated to something specific of the donor's choosing, or just really big donations like the Norton one? (If anyone reads this as being a bash, I don't mean it to sound that way, just curious as I think some would be more willing to donate if they felt it would go towards something specific that is near and dear to them)


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

A quick look at their website, and the gift types: The types of gifts that AAPSEF accepts include: · Unrestricted (funds go towards the General Fund) · Restricted (funds go towards a specific program or purpose) · Honor and Memorial · Endowment Fund · Planned Gifts · In-Kind Gifts · Matching Gifts


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

This is wonerful news for middle school students who would have missed out on thousands of after school opportunities for enrichment. Thank you to those who made this possible!


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

Before this thread turns into another AAPS bashing forum, let's do a little math. 86k to run 10 buses (average Liz's 1-3 per 5 schools estimate) for about 120 days of school comes to about 70 bucks a trip. 70 bucks to pay a driver's and support personnel's salaries, fuel and maintenance. 70 bucks to give every Ann Arbor kid a chance to join any club they want whether their parents have transportation or not. 70 bucks to give middle school kids a chance to belong to a group, develop positive relationships, and extend the learning day. I'd say it's money well spent on our kids. And money well-managed, too.


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

$64k divided by 34 weeks (doesn't run first or last week of school) divided by 3 days per week divided by 13 bus runs among the six schools comes to about $48.27 per bus run. No, this is not what's wrong with the schools. Our inability or unwillingness to break down a number before we opine about it is perhaps closer to What's Wrong with our schools. It is one of the critical thinking skills that teachers really can and do teach when they are not constrained by curricula that focus on the three weeks of multiple choice State testing these children will endure in a year.

Danielle Arndt

Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

justcary, I am not sure where you are getting the $64,000 from. The figure is $86,000.


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

Danielle, the statement that about 187 kids used the bus is misleading. Please get clarification from Ms. Margolis. Many more children at each building use it, at different times in the club cycle. That number may mean 187 per day, but is not clear. Also, late buses run Monday Tuesday Thursday, not TWTh. Wednesdays after school are staff meeting time.


Sat, Jul 28, 2012 : 11:27 a.m.

This benefits the parents more then it benefits the children to be very honest. Children have somewhere to go other then roaming the streets and making mayhem. The middle schools promote the clubs thanks to the teachers who are willing to stay afterschool to promote the club. So you really need to thank a teacher not the benefactor. IMO So, yes, during the year more children do ride afterschool. To me? Afterschool is more like a babysitter for parents who work late.


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

I heard it was more like 1500 or more individual students will benefit, based on last years ridership. It might be 200 drops a day, but it is different kids each day.

Danielle Arndt

Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

justcary, the sentence referring to the 187 students clearly states that this was the figure solely for the spring sports/club season. Not for the total year. Liz Margolis described the figures as a "snapshot" of a typical, single day in the spring. Later on in the story, it states an average of 37 students boarded from each individual building, with Scarlett having the most use with 55 students. Again, this was just for the spring season, the most recent numbers available. The specific building totals that season were: Clague - 49, Forsythe - 33, Scarlett - 55, Slauson - 20 and Tappan - 30. I have a phone call in to Liz to check the days that the buses run. Thanks for your questions and for reading.

Karen Howatt

Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

Is the entire 64k needed to fund busses just for after school clubs??? If so that is absolutely ridiculous! No wonder the AAPS is in trouble.


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

No, it's for students who need a ride home after school, after participating in clubs AND sports. 6th graders have their practices right after school, and are ready to leave at 4 PM. There are lots of sports going on in the middle schools. There's also a homework club after school, for kids who need additional help. Students can also ride the bus if they need to stay after school to work on homework or labs with a teacher; they just need staff to write them a pass for the bus. This is a very generous gift from the Norton family, and thanks to the A2PTO Thrift Shop.


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

Thank you to the Norton family and Ann Arbor PTO Thrift shop! This is a true gift to our children. The middle school years are so important.