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Posted on Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 6:05 a.m.

Washtenaw County school districts move forward on consolidating busing

By David Jesse


Thurston Elementary School students board a waiting school bus on Wednesday afternoon. Ann Arbor is one of the local school districts considering ways to save on transportation.

Melanie Maxwell |

Washtenaw County’s 10 traditional school districts are working on a plan to combine busing countywide by next fall.

The Washtenaw Intermediate School District is coordinating the effort and has hired two consulting firms to begin work. The goal is to generate savings for the districts ranging from 18 percent to 25 percent in their transportation budgets.

The news comes as all county districts are struggling with budget deficits. It also comes as the county’s largest school district, Ann Arbor, is considering privatizing its busing.

In a question-and-answer sheet provided by the WISD to, school officials said the “model is being developed as a potential alternative to privatization of school transportation services.”

But WISD officials also said the current planning doesn’t commit any school districts to the final project.

That planning includes seeking savings through: the standardization of buses, fuel systems, processes and supplies; centralized facilities, administration and overhead; optimization of routing and staging; and “budgetary control of compensation and benefits,” a WISD news release said.

Teams from each of the county’s 10 districts will be involved in the work, which is being coordinated by consultants from Xavier Leadership Center of Xavier University in Ohio and Transportation Strategies of Indiana.

The goal is to have it ready to be presented to local school boards by the end of this school year and to begin countywide busing next fall.

If it works out, students from different districts could be riding the same bus.

Ypsilanti Township resident Gladys Washington said it’s not uncommon for her to see an Ypsilanti school bus drive up her street minutes after she’s seen a Willow Run school bus travel the same route.


Ann Arbor Thurston Elementary students board a school bus Wednesday.

Melanie Maxwell |

“It seems like a waste of money,” she said. “Why not just use one bus? It’s just districts not getting along and sharing their buses.”

Ypsilanti school district CFO David Houle said the possible sharing of routes between districts is one of the exciting parts of the plan.

Ypsilanti is one of several districts seeking ways to cut transportation costs to address a budget crisis. In a deficit elimination plan filed with the state, the district said it hopes to get more than $730,000 in savings from the areas of transportation, custodial and food services during the next several years, Houle said.

“It makes a lot of sense to explore this,” he said.

The Ann Arbor and Lincoln school districts also have publicly named transportation as an area targeted for savings.

Countywide busing is one of three efforts currently under way to explore transportation savings in the Ann Arbor school district, Superintendent Todd Roberts said.

The first is looking at internal changes, such as cutting the shuttle buses that run back and forth between Community High School and the district’s other high schools during the day. That could yield $55,000 to $58,000 in savings, depending on gas prices, district officials said.

The other is looking at privatizing busing. The district has asked private companies to submit bids on taking over all busing operations.

“All three are designed to see how we can be more efficient and save money,” Roberts said, adding they hope to have the bids for privatization this month and numbers from the consultants’ work on a countywide plan by the end of March. “We’ll make the decision based on what the best option is to continue to provide quality transportation for our students.”

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



Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 7:19 a.m.

And by the way, the poll questions are inane.


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 7:13 a.m.

DonBee said to me: "...if [consolidation] reduces hours for bus drivers, I am sorry, but I see money focused on the classroom as most important." I agree, of course. It's important to know how consolidation compares to the current decentralized costs. I'm saying that we must first compare the apples to the apples. There may simply be no savings from the consolidation itself, aside from reducing wages and benefits. If that's the case, and if consolidation appears to provide no other advantage, it may just be a waste of time and money. But understand that drivers and monitors and custodians have not refused to give up wages and benefits to give the district savings. And stop implying that we have. We have had LES THAN a 1% average yearly wage for the past 5 years. LESS THAN 1%. We GAVE UP 20 "additional days" pay every year in 2003 (or 2005, not sure). That was, and still is, a huge savings for the district because with every high-seniority termination or retirement, and every new-hire, they no longer pay for a month of "unworked" days during the school year. If we want to have an intelligent conversation, we have to stop dismissing every defense of workers rights as a greedy attack on the classroom. It's not necessarily so, and it's disingenuous to claim it.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 1:10 p.m.

I am very concerned about the outcome of all of these budget cuts, as I am sure most bus drivers/monitors, teachers, custodial, mainentance and even parents are. We need to get the whole picture before we start throwing stones at any one department. I believe that everyone can find a way to save a little here and a little there. This WILL add up. I am hoping that the Board of Education has looked into every expenditure that the Admin., teachers, transportation, custodial, maintenance ect. have spent their budget on. We can try to consolidate within the county, but we should try to consolidate within our departments first. I, personally, would like to know how each departments budget breaks down. What exactly are we paying for???? Why is the Transportation Director getting principal pay (because he is under contract with the Administration), and being taken out of the Transportation budget? Why is he getting twice as much pay as the previous Directors? I would say that is where some of OUR (Transportation) money is going. We could eliminate a former principal pay and have other supervisors do his job, which they do already and don't get the BIG bucks for. I have seen several supervisors playing solitare on their computers while on the clock....what, not enough work for them to do? Come on people, lets look to see where our money is going.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 1:28 a.m.

@ Tony Dearing I think that we nead to look both way before me cross the road


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 7:59 p.m.

@Lisa, Braggslaw is anything but a socialist. He is simply one taxpayer who wants his tax dollars spent wisely. I as another taxpayer want and will demand the same. Currently the schools are underfunded and cutbacks will have to be made as there is no way to raise taxes any higher than they are. This will require that busing be looked at for savings and while meager any savings is still savings. But the biggest savings will come from minor cuts in pay,pensions and healthcare for the union teachers and administrators which make up about 80% of the total costs of running public schools. As we have said a thousand times here before ( always falling on your deaf ears)it is only fair and reasonable that this happen to you as it has been happening to the rest of us in the private sector for 2 years or more. Please don't make the kids suffer by forcing teacher layoffs, but cutting classes etc. Reasonable cuts, maybe 5% will get it done. I've had my pay cut 17% over the past three years and while I cannot enjoy the same vacations and goodies that I used to, I still manage to get by. You could do the same, I will do my best to see that happen.

Lisa Starrfield

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 7:26 p.m.

braggslaw, You claim not to be a socialist yet you are trying to determine how I spend my money. If you don't like the car I purchase, are you going to try to cut my car payment from my paycheck. I choose to purchase the more expensive health care and it has NO impact on 'your' dollars; I choose to participate in my union. Frankly, it is HIGHLY arrogant of you to claim the right to control MY purchasing decisions. You are not the only taxpayer in Ann Arbor, I happen to be one as well. The few dollars that you pay in taxes which funds education does not give you sole discretion over anything, much less my personal choices. Talk about feelings of entitlement.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 3:46 p.m.

In reading the press release at the WISD they seem to be focused on: 1) common bus purchasing - getting a better deal by having more buses in a lot - I am in favor of paying less for the buses we buy 2) common purchasing for other services and parts - again paying less is a good thing in my mind. AAPS is out of whack on contracted services and non-salary costs for busing per mile. 3) Making is so that one bus passes a house - good for the environment and good for costs, may not be good for time on the bus and may not in all cases reduce the number of miles driven. 9 buses pass my house each morning. In general I am in favor of looking at these issues. Chai if it reduces hours for bus drivers, I am sorry, but I see money focused on the classroom as most important. Good and safe transportation is needed, but taking the extra out here is a step to keeping the extra in the classroom. As to community and shuttle buses, we will have even more shuttles when Skyline's magnets include the other high schools (OBTW- the magnets are running for Skyline's students - but they are not available to the other high schools right now). My bus ride was between 90 minutes and 2 hours each way each day depending on weather - from grade school to graduation. I found it faster in good weather to walk the 5 miles (as the crow flew) to school. My children spend almost an hour on the bus now - we are almost the first house picked up. They get a lot of homework done on the bus, meaning they have more free time at home. Some children are not as productive on the bus (to their teachers - sorry about the resulting printing - buses bounce). Long bus rides are not always a bad thing. I did a lot of work on mine and my children do so now. Re-aligning buses so they pick up K-12 was a recommendation in the busing study the school paid consultants to do for them. Nothing useful has been done with the results - it was blocked by various parties. I doubt anything will come of point #3 from the WISD work, but I hope that something comes of points #1 and #2. Transportation is just short of $8 million of the $243 million AAPS budget. Reducing the costs of purchasing buses and parts, along with reducing the cost of purchased services should help hold the line when fuel prices rise again in 2010 and 2011. We need every good idea we can find to keep money in the classroom and hold the line on expenses.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 1:55 p.m.

Somewhere in this discussion can we reconsider which kids do get bus service? There are kids who take a bus for a mere mile or two to school, with the result being buses with a few kids on board. Others are not offered the bus service at all. Bus service is not a right - it should be reserved for when it is truly needed, when greater distances are to be covered or when there is an economic need. Most families have to figure out how to get their kids to school. It's part of the deal of having kids.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 11:19 a.m.

I know this is talking about bus drivers, but what about the custudion problem it is the same thing, but bids have been sent and the administration never talked as a group to us, I hope you have better luck than we have. If people think me no not do our jobs, let someone set in a bus for a week and work by a custudian for a week. We should get a chance to try to help fix the probem, not throw us away. This was always a family of the AAPS.

Rick Plester

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 9:58 a.m.

Teachers, administrators, office professionals, teacher assistants, payroll personnel, etc. all have basically similar working hours like 7:00 to 4:00 or 8:00 to 5:00, and receive a full paycheck. School bus drivers and monitors start working at 5:45 AM and finish about 9:00 or 9:15 AM. Then they return to work around 10:45 or 11:00 AM and work till 12:00 or 12:30 PM. Back on the job at 2:00 and end their day around 5:00 to 5:30 PM. They commit to an eleven hour plus day for an average pay of five and one half to seven hours. High seniority drivers choose their routes first and the last time I bid on a route I was about number 30 in over 120 drivers. I found a route with six hours and fifty five minuets on it (considered very good), lucky me. The other 90 drivers did not do so well. In order to save money by hiring a private company, the company would have to make a profit by cutting benefits like retirement or medical insurance. The cost of busses, maintenance, and fuel remain unchanged. It is hard to find quality personnel to fill an eleven hour position for an average of six and a half hours pay. What kind of people will be attracted to the jobs in transportation with less benefits than we have now? I see a revolving door of unemployed people looking for temporary paychecks as they seek a regular paying job with reasonable hours. When a student starts their day after witnessing a fight on the bus by an out of control student, or having rubbers bands shot at the back of their head, or having been intimidated by a bully, I dare say that this student will not learn much in that first hour of instruction. From there it follows that the last hour or two of classes will be spent worrying about t h e r i d e h o m e! All because some inexperienced, unconcerned, part time employee cannot control the environment on the bus. Who do you want to drive our children to school? The last place we want to make cuts is in the classroom. I can understand that. What I cannot understand is how the best of teachers could enter a classroom and teach our students whose minds are outside the classroom.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 9:49 a.m.

Dagny, "@PhillyCheese and @pegret, how many are those "large numbers" of students who take the shuttle between high schools? And why isn't there a shuttle between HHS and Pioneer? Why does CHS have a shuttle and not other schools? There may be courses at Huron and that aren't at Pioneer. And what about students at Skyline who need to take advanced courses that aren't up and running? If we do it for one high school, then maybe it's only fair to do it for all six high schools." Response: - I have no idea on how many students take the shuttle between Community/Pioneer/Huron. (FYI, I never said "large numbers", I too question how many.) - It doesn't seem to make sense to provide transportation between Pioneer & Huron because both are large, comprehensive high schools. - Community H.S. has many fewer class offerings than Pioneer, Huron, and Skyline (the comprehensive high schools). I'm surprised that you don't know this. - Huron PROBABLY does have courses not offered at Pioneer. Do you really think each school should offer EXACTLY the same classes? - Skyline students who require advanced courses, just like students at all 3 other high schools, DO have the opportunity to take the appropriate class at another school AND YES(!) high school students who've completed all the advanced high school classes take classes at U of M and Washtenaw Community College! Also advanced middle school students take classes at the high schools, too! Also, you wrote, "pegret, which courses are offered at CHS that are not offered at the other schools? I'm curious. Be specific." I think each H.S. offers a few unique courses. For example, at Skyline they offer a "forensic science" class. Community offers a "film" photography class (dark room/chemicals) while Pioneer only offers "digital" photography. I'm sure there are many more such differences. You can read course descriptions of every class offered by the 3 high schools in this publication, "2009-10 High School Student Services Guide":


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 8:53 a.m.

DagnyJ, I have no problem with anyone's child taking classes at another school, as long as the parent pays for the transportation, or better yet, pays for more than their share so there are transportation "scholarships" available. I've never heard of districts doing that before. I know my school district didn't do that. That's a heck of a luxury. Maybe they should do that with video conferencing instead.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:52 p.m.

I'm glad the districts are talking about real change to accommodate a real budget crisis. If they can't get the budget under control, then a receivership like the Detroit schools are under is always an option. A sad ending if they can't make the tough decisions.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:34 p.m.

Astro, I'm sure you do a great job. However, if you find yourself in the unemployment line because of an unwillingness to sacrifice for the greater public good, I'll be the little voice inside your head saying, "I told you so."


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:18 p.m.

Astro, Everybody believe they should get paid more and they work harder than everyone else. So that argument is kind of pointless. I worked 60 hour weeks for the last 2 years because I had to. I have the best interests of my children at heart, I don't believe the teacher's union has the best interests of my child at heart. The teachers unions were created to collectively bargain with the school districts to gain more money and benefits for their members. That money comes directly from me as a taxpayer. I would prefer to receive my child's allotment of $$ from the state and spend it in the school (parochial, private etc.) that I think would do the best for my child. With reference to teacher's resentment, if you don't like your job get a new job. That is how the private sector works.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:52 p.m.

So braggslaw, you think taxpayers should have control over what public servants spend their money on? I spend money on lots of things that have no direct impact on your child's education: clothes, movies, books for my own children...I'm a teacher, a union member, and I enter the "germ pool" each day with solid health insurance to protect me, thanks in large part to MESSA. You begrudge my right to choose to pay to protect my pay and benefits? I put my heart and soul into my teaching, I work through my evenings and weekends. I am highly effective and respected teacher who goes above and beyond for my students. I am motivated to do this in part by an appreciation for my fair pay and strong benefits. Never underestimate the power of low morale and resentment on a teacher's motivation. It is an incredibly demanding job, emotionally, physically, and mentally. You want a return on your investment for your kids' education? Support your teachers as professionals who can be trusted to make decisions about what they most need in order to give 100% to your kids everyday.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:31 p.m.

Just to clarify a few things about Community High...the reason there are shuttle busses are so that Community High students can attend classes at their home school that are not offered at Community due to the size. Also, Pioneer and Huron students can take classes at Community. It is not all about what is offered where but that is an important factor. I don't understand all this opposition to Community High, there is nothing wrong with a small school setting and MANY kids would benefit from it. As a former Community High student, I rode the bus back and forth to Pioneer daily to go to Symphony Band and Orchestra. I even took the AATA to school each morning. If the shuttle busses had not been available I would have been forced to go to Pioneer which was not ideal for me. I recently visited Community High with my daughter who will be a 9th grader in the fall. They mentioned they could cut the busing next year. This is a hugh concern to me that some kids will not be able to take all the classes they need at either Pioneer/Huron or allowing those students to go to Community to take a class.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:20 p.m.

Chai, I think you are joking... but if you are not we have a difference of opinion. I don't share any common idealogy with Maoists or Marxists. I believe as a taxpayer and a consumer I should expect my taxpayers to be used efficiently. The school system was not created to employ people. Is it society's job to provide jobs for those with no skills or is it the responsibility for each citizen to attain skills that are valuable to societ?


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:53 p.m.

Lisa, the taxpayers pay the teachers, the teachers pay MESSA and the MEA. Ultimately the taxpayers are paying MESSA and the MEA. These are organization that add no value to my child's education and I resent that they indirectly tap into public funds.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:50 p.m.

Shame on you braggslaw for commodifying students and devaluing laborers.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:45 p.m.

Lisa, Let me splain this to you. Taxpayer pays govt, govt pays teachers, teacher have to pay MESSA and MEA.. e.g. Taxpayers pay for MESSA and the MEA.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 7:42 p.m.

Currently the employees are employees of the Ann Arbor school district.if you privatize,the employees will no longer be district employees.that means a third party running things and making a profit.Where are the savings?Employees will still cost,buses will still cost and gas for the buses will still cost plus the price of a profit for a company to run it will cost.I repeat,where are the savings?

Lisa Starrfield

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 7:24 p.m.

Braggslaw, The district pays nothing for the MEA or MESSA.. that comes out of our paychecks.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 7:03 p.m.

the public schools do not exist to provide jobs, they exist to educate our children. for those who want to turn the schools in to public works projects, shame on you. Taxpayers need to get return on their investment in public education, and the money needs to be focused on teaching, not teachers unions, medical copays, MESSA, MEA commercials paid for by MESSA etc.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 4:40 p.m.

There are courses offered at one HS and not at another. I mean, even between Huron and Pioneer. And surely Skyline. Check the course offerings if you don't believe me. So why can't my kid take a course at Huron if he goes to Pioneer? Why can't you dual enroll that way? Why doesn't the district pay for my kid to be take a bus between these two schools?


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 4:38 p.m.

@Ann Arbor resident, yes I know that. And it appears that if people want a small school like CHS, they should be prepared to accept a constrained curriculum. Plus, the have all those CR opportunities everyone praises. Or, there should be shuttles from all high schools to all other high schools, so all kids have the chance to take the same courses that CHS kids get to take. You pick.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 4:26 p.m.

@Lisa Starrfield, Ypsilanti HS and WRHS are about 4.5-5 miles apart. I don't know if the plan makes sense or not because busing isn't really so much about buildings as it is about transporting people. The real question isn't how far apart are the destinations, but rather, how far are the students from the schools. Sadly, I'm not going to add much to this discussion because my personal opinion is that schools shouldn't be in the business of providing transportation to their students. If schools want to operate a bus service, so be it, but parents are ultimately responsible for making sure their children get to school. I'm firmly of the opinion that if parents really want bus service, they should pay for it. School transportation should be provided as a "cost-recovery" service rather than a handout.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 3:53 p.m.

Michigan is out of balance..... On average, teachers contribute 4 percent to the cost of family health insurance premiums, while the state average (non-edu)is 22 percent. Teacher salaries in Michigan averaged $4,079 above the national average (2006-2007 figures); that's the nation's 11th highest, while the state's per-capita personal income has fallen to 37th place and is currently $5,259 below the national average (2008 figures). Only Vermont spends a larger portion of its local and state tax revenue on public schools than Michigan. - Conclusion - Michigan currently pays TOO MUCH for the Public Education system.

Ann Arbor Resident

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 3:28 p.m.

Dagny J, Community does not have an extensive course offering due to the small size. Examples of course they do not offer are German, Orchestra, advanced science classes (CHS has the FOS science program which attempts to roll all sciences into once set of courses without specifically breaking them out by disipline, therefore one cannot take an advanced Chemistry course at CHS), psychology, etc. If students at CHS want to play a HS sport, they have to do so at either Pioneer or Huron: e.g. early morning swim team practice at Huron and then get bussed to CHS to start the regular school day. There are also students from Pioneer and Huron who double enroll at CHS. They usually take 1 or 2 courses at CHS. These are usually kids who did not win the lottery, want to take courses at CHS and hope they can fit into a vacated CHS full-time student opening before they graduate.

peter adams

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 3:25 p.m.

I used to work for a software/consulting company that specializes exclusively, in K-12 transportation and routing. Based out of new york. While there are a lot of good comments on this thread, I'll openly say that plans such as what's proposed here, historically will save the school districts millions of dollars. Of course, it's natural that they won't misguide the public expectation by saying that it will save this amount of money, until it's signed/sealed agreed upon that one bus off the road saves a total of $45K-ish annually (driver wages, fuel, maintenance,etc). We can all agree that as customer service goes up, so do their operating costs. So, the ultimate goal with the district and their consultants will be to find middle ground between savings that have the LEAST amount of impact on the students and the community. Any type of change always creates a new challenge. What's tough to hear is that so many people in the community will constantly complain about how districts eliminate full time jobs, lay off teachers, etc, but when it comes time for the districts to make changes (such as bell times, for example, which can produce the largest amount of savings in the area of transportation when organized properly), the community has more problems. It's an uphill battle, but if we want to see savings, and MORE money into the instructional side of schools, then changes have to be made, and possibly small sacrifices in the areas of operations.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 2:12 p.m.

@Dagnyj. right on all for all or none for any.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 2:01 p.m.

@PhillyCheese and @pegret, how many are those "large numbers" of students who take the shuttle between high schools? And why isn't there a shuttle between HHS and Pioneer? Why does CHS have a shuttle and not other schools? There may be courses at Huron and that aren't at Pioneer. And what about students at Skyline who need to take advanced courses that aren't up and running? If we do it for one high school, then maybe it's only fair to do it for all six high schools.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:30 p.m.

@stunhsih If we got the bus and drivers free, we still will have to cut programs and increase class size


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:26 p.m.

pegret, which courses are offered at CHS that are not offered at the other schools? I'm curious. Be specific.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:17 p.m.

@stunhsif To say I want unions to "fight cost savings" is spin. I want to know what it would cost the ISD to run transport as is. If there is a savings there we need to know. Then there's the political issue of jobs. You're counterposing jobs and education. I don't think that's fair. I also think it is short sighted, politically. The root of the problem is school funding. It needs to increase to accommodate good jobs and great educational experience for students. It should not be set up to be subject to market forces, to whims of politicians, etc.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1 p.m.

Huron HS and Ypsilanti HS are 4.6 miles apart. Willow Run HS and Ypsilanti HS are 4 miles apart. There are a few neighborhoods in the middle where, yes, it could make sense to share busing.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:57 p.m.

AATA should be involved, especially as an option for middle and high school students. AATA should also be receptive to new ideas and value the needs of students. As the parent of a student attending Pioneer H.S., I contacted the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority about aligning the #7 bus schedule so that students can use the AATA bus to get to school. The AATA bus #7 is scheduled to arrive in the Pioneer parking lot at 7:35 a.m., which gives students ONLY 5 MINUTES to walk the length of a very large parking lot, and through one of Michigan's largest high schools, to reach their classroom before the class begins at 7:40 a.m.!!! However, when I suggested to AATA that they revise their schedule so that more students could take advantage of their bus service and get to school on time, here's the response I got: "The timing of the arrival of this bus, the #7 headed toward downtown, doesn't work very well for getting to Pioneer before first hour. The timing of the route is primarily to get people to downtown to get to work shortly before 8:00." So some attitudes/expectations need to change, too. Regarding bus transportation to/from Community High School: please remember that regular students from Pioneer and Huron (and probably Skyline) use the buses to take classes at Community as well. It's not just C.H.S. students using the buses. I wonder how many students use the bus service? Could the schools use smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles?


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:55 p.m.

@Chai, you need to get your head out of the clouds. You want the unions to unite and fight cost savings when busing. You are your own worst enemy. For us regular taxpaying folks who are "tapped out", seeing a post like yours make us resolved to make this happen. This is not about you Chai and your union brethren, it is about keeping the schools funded and not hurting our kids (cutting programs, increasing class size). A smart dependant does not kill those that it is dependant upon, they ask only for what is reasonable,necessary and what the parent or host is actually able or willing to pay.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:35 p.m.

Combining busing amongst the Washtenaw School Districts to save money and keep the districts going is like trying to keep the Titanic afloat using band-aids.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:26 p.m.

I started sub driving last year. I have been at athletic events with other districts that featured private bus services. There is a huge difference in the quality of care that the students receive. Most drivers are parents and community members that contribute to the overall experience of the events, including judging, score keeping, etc. Regarding multiple busses traveling down the same street. The goal is to have full busses with short runs. I already pick up kids before 6:30 in the morning. Different school start times also affect these routes. I too am sorry that out of state consultants were hired. I suspect that after their recommendations are implemented, parents will not be pleased with the result. Remember that we will get what we pay for....


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:19 p.m.

DagnyJ, a large number of those students riding the shuttle between CHS and the other high schools are Pioneer & Huron students who were not fortunate enough to get into Community and are taking a class or two there. Almost everyone we know who is doing the split-enrollment is in that situation, and not the other way around. I do agree with previous writers that AATA should be a part of this discussion. On another note, I still wonder why I constantly see Dexter & Ypsi full-sized busses around town with only 1 or 2 students on board. I understand that they may be bussed here for legitimate reasons, but aren't there smaller vehicles like mini-vans that would be a lot cheaper to use? Running almost-empty busses across the county every day has to be expensive.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:12 p.m.

We need to know the cost of consolidation at no reduction in hours, compensation or work force to assess it's value. If it's just a mechanism for reducing wages, benefits and jobs, then it's not very valuable in and of itself. Teh Unions representing bus drivers in this county (Teamsters Local 214, AFSCME Local 3451, IUOE Local 547 and the MEA) need to build a united front to say "Consolidation only with no drop in pay, benefits or number of jobs." Unon leaders, are you listening???

Lisa Starrfield

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:59 a.m.

JNS, Every school, every district has kids with 'problems'. Even your bus, I am sure, has them. But you know those kids and you know how to handle them on a day to day basis. Yes, if we combined kids from another district on an AAPS bus, there might be additional kids with 'problems'. The bigger problem is not that they have 'problems' but that you do not (yet) have familiarity with them.

Lisa Starrfield

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:57 a.m.

YpsiLivn, Does it make sense to take kids who live on the edge of Ypsi and Ann Arbor on the same bus, drive 'em all to Ypsi's high school and then turn around and drive the other way and take them to Pioneer or Huron? Maybe you know, are the Willow Run schools and Ypsi schools close enough that it makes sense to share buses?

Lisa Starrfield

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:49 a.m.

Mr. Rashes, If we combine Middle school and high school routes or middle school and elementary routes, there will be more students on the road at one time which would require additional buses and drivers. I don't know which would be cheaper... having the existing drivers work more hours a day or having more buses, more drivers but less trips. I suspect the labor and fuel costs work out fairly close but that the expense of purchasing, insuring and maintaining the extra buses/drivers would make continuing with the three routes preferable.

Ypsi by Choice

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:46 a.m.

Jns131, When you said " We know the children because we have driven the same children for years. Now to add new children to the mix who might have problems? O that is going to go well with the parents in Ann Arbor. Let Ypsi and Willow Run bus their own children. Lets keep Ann Arbor busing their own." Busing their own???? Exactly what do you mean by busing "their own"? Yeah, you are right, I will try to keep my own on the back of the bus.

Rhe Buttle

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:44 a.m.

Consolidated busing? Why not just plain old "mass transit"? That way the other passengers subsidize the schoolkids.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:14 a.m.

If the consolidated bus has to make more stops and go to different schools. I worry about the ride getting to be way over 30 minutes, and possibly kids getting off at the wrong stop. I agree that some routing efficiencies are in order. Our bus has to go many miles out of the way to do a loop just so the kids don't have to cross the busy street to be picked up on the other side.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:45 a.m.

I hate to do this, since I'm a union member, support unions, and generally like the way the school drivers treat my child. However, I'm looking forward to the transportation being privatized. I bike to work, and the bus drivers in Ann Arbor constantly pass dangerously around cyclists. That goes for AATA drivers, AAPS drivers, and UM drivers. I've found complaining about it to their organizations is mostly pointless. I think it would be better to privatize all of these drivers, so that if they get a complaint about their dangerous driving, they could actually be fired. I'm sorry to all of the bus drivers who pass cyclists safely (5' or more, according to the Michigan Supreme Court), but I just had yet another AATA driver nearly run me over this morning, had another do it this weekend, and watched an AAPS driver pass a cyclist unsafely last week. At this point, I'd like them all fired and have them rehired again under a private company, so that any complaints can get them off the road so they can't threaten other people.

Haran Rashes

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:43 a.m.

I too am dissapointed that WISD would look to out of state organizations to plan such. This is another case of our tax dollars being used to creat jobs in other states. While I do not know the qualifications of Xavier Leadership Center of Xavier University in Ohio and Transportation Strategies of Indiana, I find it hard to believe that we do not have such expertise in the state of Michigan. In addition, I would like to see Ann Arbor Public Schools re-examine the rationale behind separate bus runs for Elementary, Middle and High Schools. While I can see the down side of High Schoolers on the same bus as Kindergarteners, I could also see great savings from single bus runs to all three school levels. Right now the School bus comes down my block three times each morning and three times each afternoon, which seems like a duplication of services that could be eliminated, saving a great deal of money.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:38 a.m.

What is good for one district is not always good for another. It is easy to say isn't it good to save money, but once again, is the public being told the truth? What are the con's to this "consolidation" that we are not being told? What about our children's safety? Who exactly will be driving our children? How much money has been spent with these two consultant firms? How many local jobs will be lost which may well force more families to leave Michigan, thus more decline in students for our schools? How about the districts that have done a very good job of operating their schools, are they now going to have to help bail out other districts that did not? Does this mean that our tax money that we did approve for our local schools already will now go out of our local area? Do we loose our newer buses to another district because "they need them more"? We the public need to know ALL the facts please!


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:23 a.m.

As a school bus driver I am now very worried about who will be getting onto my bus. We know the children because we have driven the same children for years. Now to add new children to the mix who might have problems? O that is going to go well with the parents in Ann Arbor. Let Ypsi and Willow Run bus their own children. Lets keep Ann Arbor busing their own. Plus I am also very miffed to read that they brought in a consulting firm from outside of Michigan? No wonder Michigan is loosing jobs. I am also of the opinion that WISD needs to close. No other county in the state has services like the one in Washtenaw County. Close WISD and save more money in the long run. Going to be a long year if they consolidate all the buses.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:16 a.m.

Bruce A. has an excellent comment. AATA should be part of the discussion. AATA serves the UM population already. AATA already stop at Pioneer and other area schools. It just makes good sense.

Bruce Amrine

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:18 a.m.

Why isn't AATA part of the discussion? That seems like a logical thing to do since they're in the bus business too. When I was in grade school, the city kids used the city buses if they needed a bus to get to school.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 7:42 a.m.

$55,000 to run shuttle buses between CHS and the other high schools. Oh, and let me guess, that cost isn't factored into the per pupil cost of CHS. And what about the portion of the bus drivers time, etc? If kids want to go to CHS for it's special offerings, then they should go there and partake of it. If they want what the other high schools offer, then go to those high schools.