Lansing Schools Postpone Vote on Bus Privatization

By: Josh Sidorowicz Email
By: Josh Sidorowicz Email

The Lansing school board decided Thursday night to table the vote to outsource the district's busing for roughly 5,000 students.

Instead, the board will vote on the issue during a special meeting scheduled for Jan. 23 at 5:30.

The deadline to make a decision on whether to enter into the consortium is Feb. 1.

Several bus drivers in the district, who are represented by AFSCME Council 25, protested outside the administration building before the meeting. The proposal to privatize the busing services would affect about 60 drivers in the district.

"How are they going to pay more, replace all these buses, make a profit and still come in cheaper, it just doesn't add up," said Dan Hamilton of AFSCME Council 25.

"We don't believe they're going to save the district money and that's money that can go into the classroom and keep these drivers who have relationships with the kids for all these years."

The district argues there are savings of up to $5 million over the next five years to be had by entering into a consortium agreement through the Ingham Intermediate School District with Dean Transportation.

"There will be some savings, I can't say it's going to be as great as we've been told," said board member Guillermo Lopez. "But to me this is about long-term district health in terms of budget."

During Thursday's meeting questions were raised over whether the district could lease buses rather than privatize as a way to save money. It's an option some in the public and even some board members felt should've been considered.

"It never occured to me that maybe we could lease busses like we lease cars," said treasurer Shirley Rodgers. "I'm just trying to see, did we get a look at all alternatives."

A majority of the district's 70 buses are more than 10 years old, and current state mandates say they must be replaced. The district estimates that would cost about $4 million.

East Lansing, Dansville, and Webberville have all signed onto similar agreements with the Ingham Intermediate School District.

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