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Posted on Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 2:47 p.m.

Lincoln school board considers transportation cuts

By Tom Perkins

Busing could be on the chopping block in Lincoln Consolidated Schools as the district looks for ways to slash $3 million to $5 million from its budget over the next 18 months.

The school board is considering several proposals that include fully cutting, partially cutting or outsourcing transportation in the district to keep its fund balance from dipping into the red.

Board President Kim Samuelson said the board is looking at transportation because it's one of the few mid-year cuts that won’t directly affect classroom activity.


Lincoln schools is considering cuts to transportation.

File photo

“This is basically our starting point,” she said. “At the last board meeting, we talked about mid-year cuts, but we’re not in a position to make significant mid-year cuts because it impacts the quality of education for the kids.”

Superintendent Lynn Cleary presented the board with five options for full or partial reductions in transportation, along with estimated savings for each.

The five options under consideration are:

  • Completely eliminating K-12 transportation at a savings of $494,000.
  • Eliminating transportation to Bessie Hoffman and Childs Elementary at a savings of $51,000.
  • Eliminating transportation to Bessie Hoffman and Childs Elementary, but providing a shuttle from the main campus at a savings of $30,000.
  • Eliminating secondary transportation only at a savings of $287,000.
  • Making no reductions in transportation.

The board will choose one of those options, and Samuelson said the key is to make cuts that least impact the classroom. But she called cutting transportation a catch-22 because students won’t be in the classroom if they can’t get there.

She added those measures are being considered because busing isn’t a state-mandated service.

“That’s something to look at, however, the other side of coin is if some students didn’t have busing, they simply wouldn’t go to school,” Samuelson said.

Samuelson said the proposals were met with hesitation by board members because of the hardships they would create, and called a full cut “unlikely”.

Another idea that's been floated but would require further examination and coordination with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District is outsourcing busing to a vendor. Cleary said the WISD has already put out a request for prices from different companies.

Cleary added the district has been talking about collaborating with Ann Arbor Public Schools and Ypsilanti Public Schools to reduce transportation costs. Outsourcing would mean the current drivers could go work for an outside company and retain their jobs, but the district would no longer have to pay their salaries, benefits or retirement.

“I’m not looking to give up our buses and I don’t want to lose our drivers, but I have to recognize that the district cannot continue to pay the salaries and benefits,” Cleary said.
“I’ve known some of the drivers for 14 years, and I know a lot of them are community members and my intent is not to put anyone out of work.”

Cleary said she is also continuing informal conversations with Ypsilanti Superintendent Dedrick Martin on the possibility of further consolidating services. And a consulting agency already examined the two districts’ business offices to provide collaboration options.

“I’m open for suggestions because I’m not going to let this district fail,” Cleary said.

The district will likely take the global positioning systems out of buses, which saves $12,000. Samuelson said it would likely only present a problem to substitute bus drivers.

Cleary also issued a freeze in the district's discretionary budget, which will save roughly $175,000. She said paper will be reordered, but the district must manage what smaller supplies it has left.

“Anything that has a price tag to it has to go through me,” she said.

Further initial proposed cuts include moving commencement back to the Lincoln campus from Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center and moving to electronic communications for items like report cards. Combined, those measures would save $20,000.

Samuelson said board members are meeting with staff this week to seek other suggestions for reductions.

“Generally, they have some really good ideas because they see things that we sometimes don’t,” Samuelson said.

Samuelson said cuts are always a tough decision. But because the district has made reductions in recent years, it’s better off then many of its neighbors, she said. Still, she added, the district’s fund balance is gone and more cuts are absolutely necessary.

“We don’t take it lightly, and it’s a really difficult position for us to be in,” she said. “But one of the things our district does well is work together.”

Cleary said the most significant cuts will likely come next year.

“Probably the majority of those cuts will come out of the following school year because we can’t get much more into it without affecting the classroom,” she said.

The board is holding a public forum on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium to discuss a possible technology and facilities bond. Cleary said the bond is only for improving and enhancing existing buildings.

“Hopefully, we could offset some general funds expenses if we brought these buildings up to code,” she said.

Samuelson said the transportation issue will further be discussed at the board's Dec. 14 meeting.

• Another note: Lincoln Consolidated Schools will be featured on a Channel 7 program called “Best Schools in Michigan,” at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Thu, Dec 10, 2009 : 3:49 p.m.

I'd walk 10 miles if I had to in order for my kids to stay in Lincoln. The teachers in our district are incredible and watching my kids grow-up under their care and guidance is worth any sacrifice I would need to make. I do, however, fully sympathize with those who have work/daycare and other matters that would make transportation a nightmare.


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 2:50 p.m.

This is what is posted on Lincoln's site about the forum scheduled for this evening. One question, if they are looking to cut transportation, how exactly are they paying for the "future enhancements and improvement to facilities, technology, instruction, and athletics?" BTW middle school parents had to sign a flier sent home with students regarding this forum. Lincoln Community Forum A community forum is scheduled Wednesday, December 9, 2009, 6:30 p.m. at the Lincoln High School Auditorium to receive community/parental input regarding future enhancements and improvements to facilities, technology, instruction, and athletics. Click to View Facility and Technology Assessment Presentation Lincoln Community Forum Flyer Please join us and remain at the end of the forum for the premier viewing of. Best Schools in Michigan featuring Lincoln Consolidated Schools Popcorn will be provided! See you on the 9th of December!!


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 12:30 p.m.

I live in the Lincoln district. My oldest goes to Milan high school and my two youngest go to South Arbor. I pulled them out of Lincoln when things went from bad to absurd. When the school replaced books with hand outs from I cringed but we pressed on. When full time subs replaced teachers due to budget cuts we pressed on. When the teachers were asked to help pay for some of there own health care costs which resulted in them selling Support our teachers shirts at the multi-cultural festival. Well that about did it. When the school needs to trim the budget there is one thing all parents should understand. YOUR KIDS ARE THE ONLY ONES IN THE BUILDING WITHOUT A UNION!!! Our charter schools have no unions. I encourage all parents to stop by and take a look. You wont believe your eyes.


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 6:41 a.m.

They have already cut the school nurse, at least at Brick they did. Now I get calls from the teachers and secretaries every time one of my children bumps themselves.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 11:17 p.m.

Tough decisions yes! But asking these taxpayers for more money when they have had to take on extra jobs just to make ends meet is crazy! do you know your neighbor? Did they work for one of the five factories in the area that use to be? Ask every employee to give up 1 percent of there salary next payday and see if that will help our deficit. As employees the district and the community gave good contracts when things were good. Now they are not and employees haave got to save there jobs and give a little. It is not that YOU are not worth what yyou make it is that we (the taxpayers ) can no longer afford you. Transportation also needs to look at the bus loads as I see lots of those busses half full and know those drivers can consolidate those runs and cut out a few as they do it every time a driver has an emergency. Also cut back the office staff in every building by one person and reduce the principals at the high school middle school levels. Do away with the school nurse and now that we mainstream almost all the special needs children where did all the money go that use to run the ISD? I want local people driving my grandkids but I cannot afford to stay in this district (been here 50 + years ) if you want more money. Fix it and it iwll be a sacrifice that hopefully the students won't make by not having a ride the seven or eight miles they may live from school!


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 10:43 p.m.

As of this writing I was just informed that Livonia completely eliminated hi school transportation. Eliminating this I see as responsible but eliminating transportation and turning them private is is only short term. Pinckney learned this the hard way. Teachers need to make a sacrificial cut themselves, whether pay cut or medical increase. Time to bite the bullet.

Alisa Lee

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 7:29 p.m.

Completely eliminating transportation seems like an awful idea to me. I don't live close enough to my high school to walk and living in a single parent home, my mom can't provide me transportation to and from school everyday. I've been late to class before because the traffic at school, 10 minutes before class starts is already bad enough with a lot of parents. Imagine if everyone had to drop their kid off at school at the same time. Lynn Cleary has a tough decision to make but I hope she doesn't decide to get rid of the transportation system altogether.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 6:53 p.m.

Some of the issues that Lincoln faces is more then just transportation. I know the budget is tight.. I have issues when my kids come home from school and says that the teachers are telling them that these things would not be a issue if the people in the district would have passed the millage. The teachers are telling students that it would have raised the taxes only $100.00 a year.. well guess what?? it would have raised our taxes $200.00 a year.. and some families find it hard enough to make ends meet.. and keep thier taxes up... The teachers need to stop telling our kids untruths!


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 6:46 p.m.

Why hasn't the district examined a chargeback system for busing? If parents really want the service, send them a bill for that and recover the cost of door-to-door transportation services for Johnny and Susie.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 1:22 p.m.

Ann Arbor years ago put transportation onto the privatization block. Drivers held onto solidarity and won. There is a lot to be lost if districts gives up its hold and sells out their buses and workers to privatization. Parents need to realize that if this happens there will be no accountability to the person driving your child home to and from school. Do the homework. The biggest scare parents need to understand is this. One district is private and they voted to strike. Pull the bus over safely and strike. But what about the children on the bus? How are they getting home? Can't. No one to drive them home unless a scab comes in and drives them home. You can't drive a bus without a CDL and endorsements. Pinckney went private and voted themselves back into union because the parents realized that their children were not safe. Union workers have taken an oath since 1968 not to strike and put childrens lives in danger. Private workers will. They will want more money, better what ever and o gee, lets strike, who care who gets hurt in the process. Parents? If you do not care who drives your child home at nite? Then do not show up and rally against this outrage of laying off so many drivers and monitors who put their lives out there every single day. Show up and tell the board no not this way, show up at all the financial meetings and tell the board no. There are other ways to make cuts. Stay strong brothers and sisters, solidarity will win again.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 12:41 p.m.

@Sandy: none of the students in Greene Farms Sub (actross from Childs) are allowed to ride the bus. There is a bus that goes around the perimiter of the Millpointe Sub for those students. However, most of the students bused to Childs are "lottery" families, and there are at least 3 buses for those kids. Tough times call for tough decisions... but transportation in a rural area is a REALLY tough call...

Sandy Castle

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 12:16 p.m.

The busing they're talking about eliminating is for Child's Elementary. The main subdivision that feeds into Childs is directly across the street, but these parents don't want their kids to walk. And, yes, there is a crossing guard. You people are starting to sound like Ann Arbor parents, who don't want cuts in the classroom, don't want cuts in teacher pay, don't want cuts at all, but there's no money so cuts have to happen somewhere. Instead of registering your complaints here, I bet the school district would love to hear real ideas and some participation from you on what you think they CAN do to address the budget crisis. And to the parents who indicated they would move their kids to the Saline School District. Good luck with that. Saline is a highly limited school of choice, and they only take kids in at the elementary school level, to work their way up. They don't take everyone, it's by approval only.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 10:46 a.m.

>> The State requires that school districts provide busing for special education children. That's a good point. Do they provide funding for that?


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 10:26 a.m.

The argument that some commenters are making boils down to "The best thing my kid gets from Lincoln Consolidated Schools is a free ride to school." That's sad. If a bus ride ranks as the number one benefit of attending the schools, then why haven't the parents already sought out other options? Transportation to school is the least of the problem here. Most (but not all) charter school and private school parents manage to get their kids to school on time every day. It's just another in a long line of responsibilities that parents should have. Schools should never have gotten into the business of transporting children. A public education may be free, but that doesn't mean you don't have to work for it. As a side note, busing can't be completely eliminated. The State requires that school districts provide busing for special education children.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 9:34 a.m.

Yep. It's a double-edge sword. They can't afford to transport students, and they can't afford not to transport students because the head count will shrink. Like I said, there is no easy solution and I'm glad I'm not Cleary. No matter what she does, she loses. But she better do something quick.

Cindy Lou

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 9:17 a.m.

If Lincoln no longer provides transportation to it's students makes no sense as most of the student population live more than 1.5 miles from the campus which is what the state says is a reasonable distance for a child to walk to school as my children did when they attended Ypsilanti Public Schools. I now live with in the Lincoln District and have one child in Lincoln and one in Ypsilanti if they no longer provide transportion I will have to move my other child to Ypsilanti as a single parent I can not be in two different places at the same time. When I attended Lincoln and there were budget shortfalls they cut SPORTS, ARTS, Field trips. If they cut transportation many children won't be attending Lincoln as their parents will take them to schools closer to their me.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 8:58 a.m.

I hope all of you above will bring your nasty comments to the Community Forum. Its always nice to be part of a community who wants to contribute to the problem with your own threats instead of working to be part of a solution. Have you attended any forums in other districts? Guess what folks theyre all in the same boat, looking at all the same cuts Lincoln is.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 6:34 a.m.

@cmb......I would have to check. My oldest is only in 6th grade so I too don't have kids in the school sports system.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 10:44 p.m.

Same useless threats that they make everytime they can't pass a mileage to scare the community into passing the next one that comes along. I've seen the districts do this many times when they loose a mileage instead of putting in the hardwork to straighten out there budgets. Threaten parents with something they know it's next to impossible to do to get them in a uproar to give them more money. Unfortunately one of these days it will press the districts to put up or shut up and I can't wait to start to see the lawsuits flying. That will save the districts so much money with all the extra lawyer fees.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9:05 p.m.

emu2009... If I'm not mistaken, and I could be because I don't have kids in sports, it's already "Pay to Play" at Lincoln and has been for many years.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 8:55 p.m.

How can they say it won't directly effect classroom activity? There will be many students who are late due to traffic, lack of a family vehicle or just absent all together. In a district where most students couldn't even walk due to the area being mostly rural, how could you expect elementary school students to even consider walking to school? I think that there are other areas where cuts could be made. Sports are not mandatory, cut back on those. Or go to a "pay to play" system. I would much rather my 3 children receive their education because they have a bus to ride then have sports teams. I think I would have to consider pulling them from the district as well and taking them to another if this were to happen.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 8:20 p.m.

Every year we hear of the district cutting and or privatizing the transportation. I never hear that Lincoln should stop out sourcing field trips at what is a huge cost.. why out source when we have a fleet of busses and drivers??? If they cut bussing to rual students.. It makes my chioce ral easy.. If I have to take my child to school.. and can not get a buss to come to my rual home.. in the district that I pay taxes in.. I will take my daughters to Milan. Then not only will they lose my kids but also the funding that comes with it. I think that Lincoln needs to take a closer look at some other things to cut and take a real hard look at how thier money is spent... and not be so quick to cut off thier noses to spite thier face!


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 7:38 p.m.

If you cant transport the students to the school, transport the school to the students. Instead of closing elementary schools in your neighborhood, turn them in to K-12 schools. Small school size will eliminate many of the problems mentioned above such as crime, traffic congestion, and the need for bussing. Fewer teachers would be needed for a local K-12 school. Heating, cooling and lighting would be cheaper. All students should be able to walk to a school in their neighborhood. All neighborhoods should be proud of their local school and take an active roll in their local school. Those neighborhoods that took an active roll in their local schools would be rewarded with increased property values. The only reason we have huge mega-mart high schools is because bussing and energy costs were relatively cheap but those days are long gone. The greatest leaders of the 20th century were educated in local one-room schools and maybe they had the best idea.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 7:02 p.m.

All of the above items might happen. Even if they eliminate transportation completely, that is only $494,000. They need $3-$5 million. With all this, I can't help but notice on their website a survey asking people how important a diving pool would be if they could come up with bond money. Nothing against divers, but I think teachers, plumbing and heat are somewhat more important.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 6:11 p.m.

I graduated from Lincoln in 1998 and almost the whole time I was there From my second Semester of tenth grade the buses where so full that we were standing in the aisle and making the driver very nervous I was very glad when I got my Driver License and my car. Maybe they should consider cutting some of the sports there liek track and field and Football.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 5:46 p.m.

If this happens, I will send my child to Milan or Saline schools. They have a higher qulaity education and a better environment than Lincoln Schools has.

Trisha Paul

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 5:38 p.m.

Even though the Lincoln is trying to avoid making cuts in the classroom, school districts need to recognize the fact that cutting transportation will directly affect who actually sits in the classroom. I would say that most of the students at Huron High School use the transportation provided by the school. Without this transportation, many families would be unable to get their kids to school. That being said, I think that the cost of transportation can be reduced. If bus routes are combined in more efficient ways, the district should be able to pay less for the bus drivers. Many buses do not take nearly as many kids as they could fit. Yes, students would have to wake up earlier sometimes, but that is definitely better than not having a way of getting to school at all. Some bus drivers would probably lose their jobs. But I think that it has gotten to the point where jobs will be lost unless the district can find an alternative way to make cuts, and I do not think that transportation should be cut as a whole.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 5:10 p.m.

Just need to make one more comment. I see Lincoln School buses pass by my house that only have about 10 kids in them. Maybe they should consider consolidating some how.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 5:07 p.m.

They are making it real easy for me and many other parents to take their kids to Milan or Saline Schools.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 4:28 p.m.

I would advise superintendent Cleary as I advised her predecessor. DO NOT CUT TRANSPORTATION! Just up the road is one of the best charter schools in the state (South Arbor) and another highly regarded charter school is just down the same street (Keystone). If parents have to drive their kids to school anyway, why choose Lincoln? At the High school level an excellent school of choice (Milan) is just a little further drive. Lincoln schools with its low MEAP scores, Drug, and violence issues, not to mention the low graduation rate has only ONE thing going for it, THEY HAVE BUSSES!!


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 4:06 p.m.

Another issue that I think needs to be addressed in tandem with the transportation issue is the use of bussing to achieve integration (racial and economic). If this issue comes to the fore in AA for example I think the real issue is whether we have the stomach to reconfigure boundaries so that children attend the school closest to their home. This would surely lower the transportation burden on many working families (I'm assuming that families with at least one adult in the home who is not working could find their way to walk their children to school) if only from a time perspective. Where things go awry however are legitimate issues of equal treatment wherein parents make contributions to their child's school for supplies and equipment resulting in schools like King with the latest laptops in all the classrooms and schools like Carpenter or Alen with something less than the latest and the subsequent impact on scores (not to mention learning advantages.)

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 3:31 p.m.

with no bussing, does this mean a reduction in school days? there will be no excuses for buses not making it down those rural roads. but then again, the congestion around the school entrances will be a nightmare.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 3:15 p.m.

I don't wish these decisions on any school system. But as I read this I can't help but think that these things have been on the table for years, yet nothing has ever been done. Time goes by, the deficit grows larger, and now it appears a decision needs to be made mid-year. I like Cleary and, like I said, I wouldn't want to be in her shoes. But when it was perfectly clear that making Lincoln a school of choice wasn't the silver bullet to fix all budget issues, these things should have been addressed then. And that was over a year ago.