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Lansing school board delays decision on privatizing school bus service

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio
Dozens of Lansing school bus drivers and their supporters showed up at last night's school board meeting to oppose a plan to hire a private company to provide bus service to district students.

The Lansing school board has put off a decision on whether to privatize the district’s bus service.

School officials say the proposal would save the district five million dollars over the next five years, primarily by not having to pay to replace dozens of aging school buses.

But the district’s unionized bus drivers raised questions about the plan.

Peter Spadafore is the school board president. He says giving the union one week to spell out its concerns is a good idea.

“This is a five year commitment for the school district. this is a five year commitment for the school board. And it’s a five year commitment for the drivers,” says Spadafore, “We want to make sure it’s the right decision.”

The union fears most of the Lansing school district’s current bus drivers would not get jobs with the private company.

Dan Hamilton is with AFSCME, which represents the bus drivers.

“Since the shifting of the real numbers has been put on us, we think we can show them and hopefully convince them,” Hamilton said after the meeting. 

Lauralee Rocha is among the bus drivers who attended last night’s meeting to urge the board to rethink the privatization proposal.

“I think privatization is bad.  It’s people taking other people’s jobs,” says Rocha.

Some current drivers will likely get jobs with the private company.  But many others would not. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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