For multiple reasons, I am absolutely opposed to the Almont School system privatizing their bus service.

First, if the bus service is privatized, when a child gets on the bus he or she will be greeted by a person whose loyalty is to their employer and not the child and the school system.

Second, I have read that the district would save about 10% but that the bus driver’s wages would still be the “same or higher.” The only way that can occur is for the drivers to lose both their health care and retirement benefits. Driving bus is a stressful job that has odd hours and one of the prime inducements to take the job is the benefits. Without the benefits as part of the driver’s compensation, it is likely that the drivers will be leaving to take better jobs, which will result in an extremely high turnover rate. This also could be considered a safety issue because of inexperienced drivers.

Third, the Affordable Care Act requires that the drivers have health insurance. If it is not provided by the school district, then the drivers will have to buy their own insurance. If the drivers cannot afford their insurance, by law, we the public will pay for a portion of their insurance. The intent of the Affordable Care Act was to encourage businesses and organizations to include health insurance as a basic part of their compensation. Government organizations should promote the creation of fair and adequate compensation packages. What are we teaching our children when we don’t do the right thing? 

Lastly, it is long past the time for the Board of Education and the public to take back control of our schools from the state government. The problem with our schools is a seven letter word. That word is not teacher. It isn’t student. It isn’t parents. It is LANSING!!!

Since the change in the method of financing schools was made in the early 1990s, there has not been a mechanism to insure that the money allocated to education is sufficient to do the job.

—James R. Wade Sr.
May 16, 2019