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Posted on Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 10:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor school district's new busing policy is wrong

By Letters to the Editor

I learned something interesting when I picked my grandson up at the school bus stop (on a recent) Friday. I learned that from now on, if the parents aren't at the bus stop, the child will be told to get off anyway, rather than be taken back to the school as before.

I didn't believe my daughter-in-law when she told me that as we waited. I thought she must have misunderstood. So I asked the bus driver, who replied, "Yes, that's right. As of second grade, we've been told to make them get off the bus." (And then added, "But I won't do it.")

My immediate reaction was horror! I know there are budget cuts and expenses are being trimmed. Already the school bus doesn't come down our street any more; the children meet at appointed places to board. But throwing Junior off the bus?! Especially as our bus stop is in a curve on busy Packard Street, and not at a traffic light. This decision seemed heartless and reckless to me.

Then I started discussing it with people my age.

"Did you walk to school?" many asked. The answer was yes, but there were no busy streets to cross.

And then I started wondering if it wasn't a good idea to let children take more responsibility for themselves. Why back in my day...

But back in my day there were far fewer cars. And more people outside to keep an eye on things and help children across the street. Now everyone is motorized and zipping around at top speed. Few people walk. Few children play in their yards. Outdoors is one vast wilderness... but one fraught with heavy traffic.

I'm all for making children - and people in general - more responsible for what happens to them. Less prone to blaming someone else, or suing for anything that goes wrong. But somehow letting 7-year-olds off on a major thoroughfare with no traffic light just seems wrong. Am I the only one?

Sandy Schopbach
Ann Arbor


AA Neighbor

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 10:02 p.m.

Why are these women standing around waiting for their children to get off a bus that's paid for by others' tax dollars? Walk or drive to the school and pick them up yourselves.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

"DonBee at 9:58 PM on December 11, 2011 The school taxes are the same regardless of where you live. I pay the same rate of millage on the schools as you do. Sorry 48104, but you are thinking of other taxes." The schools millage and Dr. Green's salary have NOTHING to do with whether or not there are sidewalks or crosswalks on our children's way to the increasingly-distant bus stops. Yes, it sucks that my seven-year-old has to hike a half mile this year when it was on a half block last year. But at least we have the amenities to make it safe. Arguing for closer stops because your kids have to walk in the road is not convincing. The schools don't pay for neighborhood infrastructure.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

aamom...48104 is responding to don bee's comments. Don is the one who keeps changing the subject from drop offs on Packard Avenue to busing policies in the townships.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

What are you babbling about? I live in the townships and I have sidewalks all over the place. The article wasn't about AA not having sidewalks. It was about dropping young children off on busy roads and then expecting them to cross it alone.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

First of all, schools are only required to transport special education students. So in that respect, at least there still are some busses transporting AAPS children. If you look at many areas in the US, California in particular, families must pay "bus tuition" to ride on a private school bus or provide their own transportation. Secondly, if the parents are so concerned about the unsafe conditions, why don't they either transport their child to and from school or if they can't make it at dismissal times, there is always child care. No one ever said raising children was convenient or even easy!!

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 2:55 a.m.

It's an odd dichotomy. On one hand, it's too dangerous for a child to walk alone for a block or two to his own home. And on the other hand, Ann Arbor just hired a superintendent who will not expel a student for beating the tar out of another child, as long as the offender is in a protected race. Which do you think is more harmful? School-sanctioned beatings or walking?

tom swift jr.

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 2:09 a.m.

Why is the bus driver more responsible for a child than the parents. If you don't want your child to walk from the bus-stop, then arrange to have him/her picked up. The school district is NOT your child's nanny/babysitter/grandparent/parent/or big brother. Start parenting and stop complaining.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 12:19 a.m.

It is what it is! And given what it is, it is the parents responsibility to go over and over what the child is supposed to do if the parent is not there.


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 11:46 p.m.

All of you who decided to live in the townships where the taxes were lower and the amenities are fewer have come to see the result of your decisions. Not to say that those of us closer in enjoy the cuts, but at least there are sidewalks and crosswalks on my second grader's almost half mile walk to the bus stop.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.

Whoa, 48104, talk about Ann Arbor-centric! As DonBee said, those of us in the townships pay the exact same school taxes that those if you in the 48104 zip code do. We decided to live in the townships for many reasons - in my case, a bigger house and yard for less money were "the result of [my] decisions". If you didn't have the MANY township residents in AAPS, it would be a very different district...

Basic Bob

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 4:54 a.m.

Yeah, we don't pay for the silly fountain, underground library parking, or bus stops for The Ride. We do pay for Dr. Green's salary, same as you.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 2:58 a.m.

The school taxes are the same regardless of where you live. I pay the same rate of millage on the schools as you do. Sorry 48104, but you are thinking of other taxes.

J. A. Pieper

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 11:14 p.m.

Keep in mind, this is privatized bussing, AAPS has contracted for a specific $$$ amount, and we are getting what we are paying for,we must reduce costs ( how else are we to pay that new superintendent's higher salary?). The privatized bus service is out there to make money, they have no invested, personal interest in the children who attend AAPS. When the bus drivers worked for AAPS, they were much more caring, knew their riders, and had a strong connection with the schools they delivered children to every day. Now they are just their making $$$ off the Ann Arbor taxpayer. They have a smaller number of children allowed on the bus, hence requiring more buses, especially for field trips. They charge a $35 inspection fee for every bus taking children on a field trip. So they can make $70. a day having their buses inspected, they don't do this as often to bring your child to and from school. Remember, we get what we pay for, and saving money through this privatized bus system is one ay we can continue to have high priced administrators. Hey, we have to have someone come up with ideas like the "discipline gap", right?


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

If you don;t like the bureaucratic insensitivity, stop re-electing the same people to the School Board.

Blanch DuBois

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 9:16 p.m.

There was a very thought provoking documentary on detroit pbs titled &quot;Where Do The Children Play?&quot; Excellent program that was filmed here in the metro Detroit area. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 8:46 p.m.

Is the assumption that kids are just going to run out into 55 mph traffic if they're isn't anyone around? You've got to be kidding me.

J. A. Pieper

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 11:04 p.m.

And don't forget, it will be the fault of the teachers at their school!

Andrew Smith

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

Reality check: under both the &quot;old&quot; and &quot;new&quot; busing policies, children who lived closer than 1.5 miles to the school had to walk. No parent came to pick them up, and nobody at school new if there was a parent at home when the child arrived there. All of this fretting about children who take the bus merely highlights that those who live farther than 1.5 miles from their school have been given amazing privileges which we can no longer afford. Under the &quot;new&quot; policy, those who live further than 1.5 miles are still being treated better than those who live closer.

shadow wilson

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 8:36 p.m.

The myth is that somehow it is different now then it was back in the 60's when I walked to school.Statistically bet any difference either way is negligible........let kids be kids they can have snow ball fights on the way to and from school after they each sign a disclaimer promising not to sue each other!! I


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

Give me a break. We use to walk to school. In Detroit. In the winter. AND we crossed a busy street...uhhh, at the crosswalk.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 4:15 p.m.

Don, Good info on the school millage. Thanks. But if you want a sidewalk I guess you'll have to build it...or farm on the other side of the street.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 2:57 a.m.

So if you want to farm, you can't because... Sorry, I don't buy it. City folks don't pay anymore school taxes than township folks. We all pay the same millage to the school system.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 1:29 a.m.

Don, the letter is about Packard, not the township. District policies are for another letter, on another day...which I probably won't respond to. But the people that choose to live in townships pay less taxes. Seems to me they can use their savings and provide their own transportation. Deciding where to live without considering your children's school is, well, .... At 6:46pm, 48104 pretty much hit the nail on the head.


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 10:59 p.m.

a2citizen - The policy applies to the whole district. The district includes the townships. While the grade school and middle school are much less effected in the townships, we have high school students who have long walks along roads like Plymouth-Ann Arbor in the dark.


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

Don, the kid is not being dropped off in the township...please reread the letter. Where is Packard a township road? &quot;...Especially as our bus stop is in a curve on busy Packard Street...&quot;


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 7:57 p.m.

In the townships, there are no cross walks, and no sidewalks. Speed limits in most of Detroit are 35 MPH. In the townships they are 55 MPH. In Detroit it is not unusual to see cars doing 50 MPH, on the main roads in the townships, it is not unusual to see cars doing 70 MPH. Want a second grader to deal with that?


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 7:24 p.m.

Our overpaid superintendent is known for saying, &quot;Great Expectations...the best is yet to come&quot;! Well, with this ill-advised and dangerous cutback on busing, I'd say &quot;Great Liability...lawsuits are about to come&quot;...


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 7:03 p.m.

The decision is wrong. Still, it would be good to take some initiative to make walking home a lot less dangerous for the nippers. If we have to tolerate the fast traffic, unsafe crossings, and the insensitivity of the bureaucrats, then perhaps we should mobilize and place volunteers at the drop off points to help children who don't have parents (for whatever reason) to shepherd them home. At the same time we should know what the money that is saved is going for. Ideally, schools would be smaller and closer to home. How many new elementary schools have been built in Ann Arbor in the last 50 years?

J. A. Pieper

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 11:02 p.m.

Sorry, Sam, we don't need new elementary schools in AA. Some are only at half capacity, others have more space available, and others have space rented to other entities. In tough economic times, a school district does not need to build, hence increasing taxes. Think Skyline...


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

Under the circumstances described by Ms. Schopbach, kids in second grade are too young to be put in such a situation. I am all for gradually giving kids autonomy and responsibility as they mature in body and mind, but this scenario is potentially too dangerous for a second grader.

shadow wilson

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

&quot;Back in the day&quot; it was no different then it is now.We have helicoptered (a new yuppie phrase) our poor children to the point of dysfunction.......let em walk it is good for em <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Harry B

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

You can let YOUR 6 year old walk home from school. I'll make the extra effort with mine and make sure they are safe.


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

It's part of the new &quot;gap reduction&quot; initiative -


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

After a few kids get hit by cars maybe then the school district will change their minds about this.

Harry B

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

This would be the parents fault. The parents are responsible for keeping there kids safe. If you have to pick up your kid at bus stop why dont you take the extra step and drop off and pick up your kid. I would never take the chance of myself being delayed and having my kid standing on a street corner. At least at school there are teachers there.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 10:09 p.m.

In the olden days, there was a concept called teaching your children to look both ways before crossing the street.