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Posted on Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 9:28 p.m.

Ypsilanti school board votes to spend up to $180,000 for additional bus services from private company

By Kyle Feldscher

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The Ypsilanti school district is adding additional busing through a private company.

After joining a countywide busing system to save money, Ypsilanti Public Schools will spend up to $180,000 on additional transportation services through a private company.

The Ypsilanti Board of Education approved a contract with Trinity Transportation Inc. to direct additional resources to elementary bus routes. The addition of the transportation service will free up two or three district buses from schools of choice routes to secondary and elementary district students.

Board President David Bates said the district’s depleted bus stock and complication with door-to-door services made the supplemental service necessary.

“We currently do not have the rolling stock or capacity to deliver our transportation needs,” Bates said. “That’s why students are being delivered 20 minutes late on seven or eight routes daily.”

The cost for Trinity Transportation’s services is estimated at between $50,445 and $58,410 per route, with up to three routes being considered. The resolution approved by the board requires the amount spent on the contract to be no more than $60,000 per route.

The contract is slated to run for one year — until next November — but includes a clause allowing a termination of the contract with a 30-day written notice.

The routes the Trinity Transportation buses will serve haven't been determined. The Washtenaw Intermediate School District will work with administrators to decide which routes will be dropped from consortium service and picked up by the company. The routes will only be ones that take out-of-district students to district schools.

Trustee Andy Fanta took issue with the district’s current practice of borrowing two buses from neighboring districts without finding out what the cost will be to the district. He said the administration didn't do enough to find alternatives to contracting with Trinity Inc.

“I’m aghast at the lack of effort administration has put in weighing alternatives,” Fanta said. “It’s a wedge to start privatization.”

Fanta was the only trustee to vote against the contract.

The district agreed to join the Washtenaw Intermediate School District-run bus consolidation earlier this year, and the service began at the beginning of the school year. Ypsilanti parents and staff have been vocal about their displeasure with the service, which has been marked by delays and communication problems since its outset.

Trustees who supported the contract pointed to students getting to school on time and safely as the most important factor in their decision.

Trustee Sarah Devaney said the contract is hopefully a quick fix that can lead the district to a solution to a long-term problem.

“This is a privatization of services. We are realizing less savings than we thought,” she said. “I’m going to assume this will act as a Band-Aid and we are working on a permanent solution. The important piece is making sure students are in the classroom on time.”

According to information supplied by Trinity Transportation, the services will cost the district $285 per bus per day, plus an additional $45 per bus per day since the district elects to add a second tier. Bus attendants will cost the district $85 per day, and field trips on a regular school bus will run the district $46 per hour, with a four-hour minimum.

Kelly Powers, president of the Ypsilanti Education Association, said she was disappointed with the switch to the WISD consolidation. 

“This shouldn’t be happening,” she said. “We shouldn’t be spending another $60,000 on transportation.”

Superintendent Dedrick Martin also hinted at ending the door-to-door service for kindergarteners that is traditionally offered by the district.

He said the customization of bus routes will use more and more of the district’s general fund as drivers and buses become maxed out.

“We are going to have to address our transportation guidelines,” he said.

Board members said they would be uncomfortable ending that service this year, but it would be something revisited in the future.

Trustee Kira Berman said the WISD and the district promised parents the door-to-door service would at least last the year.

“I understand we may need to make some cuts, but I’d like to see equity across the district,” she said.

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at



Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 11:46 p.m.

@jns131, Pinckney may have gone back to doing it in-house, but there are a whole lot of districts that privatized and are perfectly happy with the decision too.

Average Joe

Thu, Nov 11, 2010 : 10:56 a.m.

Did I read that correctly that Fanta was the only trustee to vote against the contract? Trustee Berman voted in favor of privatization? Guess the union is losing their hold on her. Ouch.

Fat Bill

Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 10:08 p.m.

Ypsilanti is doing just what some of the districts next door to Detroit have been doing; sending busses into other districts to gather up school of choice students to fluff up the numbers. Remember, each student garners the districtmore than $7000 from the School Aid fund. Provided that the cost of bussing and educating these schools of choice students does not exceed the revenue, they can make a "business" case for this practice. That it likely harms the districts the pupils come from is another matter...


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 10:56 a.m.

"... Kelly Powers, president of the Ypsilanti Education Association, said she was disappointed with the switch to the WISD consolidation...." Thanks to the YEA for at least speaking out. This is certainly better than the public silence from Ann Arbor educators in regard to the ill effects of county bus consolidation. Our Tree Town teachers stood by quietly and watched while their district's families and former drivers were abused by the process.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 10:26 a.m.

As I have said it before, I knew this would only lead to disaster. Consolidation was not and is not the answer. More then 400 people lost their jobs, where not hired into the WISD system because of cherry picking on the side of WISD. Ann Arbor is still unable to keep drivers and right now none are staying because there is nothing to keep them there. Consolidation was a short term solution to bust the unions and keep the board from paying the salaries of much loved drivers the children knew. Now they don't know who is going to drive them to school, if their bus is going to show and if the driver is having a great day. Like it or not, these three districts sold out their much under payed transportation department to keep the teachers union happy. O yes, Ann Arbor took a 2% hit but are going to recoup their losses in 5 years. I'd like to see how if they won't have the money because of budget constraints. Ypsi, Willow Run and Ann Arbor? Should have seen this coming when Lincoln, Dexter, Chelsea, Saline, Milan and Manchester said no thank you, we will do it ourselves. Good luck Ypsi, you really made your bed this time, didn't you? For the record? Garden City pays it drivers $18 plus and up. Washtenaw county? $13 and up. O and lets not forget what WISD did. They hired retired drivers $22.50 on a part time basis on a temp basis. From what I am hearing this is going to be permanent because they can't keep new drivers. Sounds like a win win situation for everyone involved. Plus I'd like to know how on $13 an hour you can pay for a $4000 deductible on health insurance? Now I know why people are leaving, better benies and better pay somewhere else. Pinckney dumped their privatized get up and went back to the old ways of doing things. Things from what I hear are much better now. Get the training and find a better place to work. Sucks doesn't it to work for these three. You won't find me working at these three because eventually Trinity will take over and oust WISD. So be it for saving money doesn't it?


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 9:50 a.m.

Vanessa - you nailed it. This is another poorly thought out practice in Ypsi. I know parents who have their children bused to a school farther away so they don't have to walk six blocks. If they had to provide the transportation they would stay at the "home" school. I like the internal school-of-choice, but the district should not pay the transportation bill for parents who take advantage of the choice. This is so obvious, why can't any of our central administrators figure it out?


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 9:28 a.m.

Vanessa you make a great point. I think YPS is providing that transportation, thus making it almost impossible to be on time. I know for a fact that they do it because our neighbor has a child who gets on a bus, stops at local school to drop off, then proceeds to their school of choice for drop off. It is ridiculous and YPS needs to put a stop to that. Imagine the length of time that kids are on the bus!! School of choice within a district is fine, but you need to find transportation if you choose to do that. The WISD consolidation seems to be working fine in Ann Arbor, just took a few weeks to figure out. When kids in Ann Arbor choose a different school within the district, the parents must provide transportation for them.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 6:55 a.m.

Vanessa, the district approved "Schools of Choice" which means anyone from anywhere in the county can come to YPS. They also approved "Schools of Choice" for children in one neighborhood to attend a school in another neighborhood. The law does not require the district to provide transportation to youngsters in either case. Your suggestion is a valid one.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 5:16 a.m.

Any info on the net cost savings since joining the WISD bussing scam? I assume there are savings? Probably now a little less with the additional cost for this new service.

Vanessa Clarke

Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 11:11 p.m.

Is it true that YPS allows students to choose any school in the district and busses them there? I heard this but find it hard to believe. If it is true.... bingo! There's your problem. If you choose not to attend your zoned school, you should be responsible for getting there.

Monica R-W

Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 11:02 p.m.

It is beginning to sound like hiring WISD and getting rid of the bus drivers was an mistake. How would have thought?