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Privatized: Plymouth-Canton Schools' Bus Services

School board makes a 5-2 vote to approve 3-year contract. Drivers and bus aides may reapply for their jobs.

The board of education for Plymouth-Canton Community Schools has agreed, in a 5-2 vote, to privatize transportation services.

This means the board will no longer negotiate with the transportation union, which represents 150 general and special education drivers, as well as bus monitor employees.

Several of the union members left the meeting in tears. School board officials said during the meeting that the move will save the district about 57 percent of current costs.

The board approved a 3-year agreement with Michigan Educational Transportation Services. Negotiations ended with the union on Friday, said interim superintendent Jeremy Hughes. The district spent $8 million for transportation services during the last school year.

The district's contract with the drivers and monitors ended on June 30. Drivers and bus aides may reapply for their jobs, but will likely lose both medical and retirement benefits, said union steward William Barber.

The school district's $162 million budget includes a deficit of $11 million.

Check back on this page for details of Tuesday's school board meeting.

KWall July 20, 2011 at 02:46 AM
I know that things need to be done to help with the financial distress, but this truly saddens me.
HeyMon July 20, 2011 at 12:42 PM
It's really sad, and a shame. But there doesn't seem to be any choice in the matter. Unlike Wash DC, the school district can't print more money. Hopefully, most of the current drivers will apply with the new company.
Stu Raben July 20, 2011 at 05:34 PM
OK, Privitization happens...But you can't take retirement/medical benifits away from existing employees. New hires will understand that these are not included but our employees have planned on these and should be grandfathered (grandmothered). How can this happen? The district could never get away with this, so they just hired a company to do it for them. I'm ashamed of my district. Stu Raben, Field Elementary (Ret.)
Darken July 21, 2011 at 04:56 AM
You got what you asked for, now it is the students that have to suffer with a driver that doesn't care because they are "only hired to drive". I hope that all of you are truly happy with your Board of Education officers.
Darken July 21, 2011 at 05:54 AM
Oh they already did with that vote. All drivers and monitors lost their jobs. They can now re-apply for a lower paying job with no benefits, and they get to loose their pensions as well, good going to those of you who support privatization, the breaking of unions and those who think driving a bus is easy. Go apply, try it, I dare you!
stayaloft July 21, 2011 at 12:00 PM
I thought I read that the current drivers get first dibs on the jobs with the new transportation company, guaranteed at the same rate of pay they were making with the district. Also, I think that the new company will offer benefits after 8 hours rather than 4. As for the pension, I don't know the details. However, few in the private sector get a pension. We set up IRA's and 401K's. You're free to do the same. I don't want to sound as though I don't understand and have compassion for all of the drivers who just lost their current jobs, but the mantra that now the Board has "thrown the children under the bus" just doesn't hold water. The district is more than 10M in the hole. Something had to give. The district layed its cards on the table, showed the union its offer and asked them to match it. The union chose not to. Seems to me that the officer who bargained for the drivers thought that the district was bluffing. Apparently it wasn't. Throwing the children under the bus would have been to severly limit the service routes or worse, eliminate bussing altogether. This solution preserves bussing for children at the current levels and potentially with the same friendly faces the kids have come to know. If the current drivers choose to take the jobs which are waiting for them with the new company, the dedication and committment our children currently receive shouldn't change - should it?
Bruce Koldys July 21, 2011 at 12:59 PM
With the concessions that the union had offered, the distance between the two parties should have been managable. There is a push by the governor to starve school districts and other public entities so that their unionized workforce will be removed. This effectively helps to destroy what is left of the middle class (and many unionized employees do not even qualify for this status) and helps in the massive redistribution of wealth in Michigan from the have nots to the haves.
HeyMon July 21, 2011 at 01:15 PM
I think some of these 'end of the world' postings aren't helping very much. Look around, the former Ford/Visteon plant on Sheldon & M-14 is down to 1 shift. The District lost a lot of property tax revenue when that entire complex declared bankruptcy, and went over to Auto Alternatives, Inc. But the 'bottom line' is this: We need to have the best teachers in the classroom, and they deserve/need to receive the highest pay we can possibly afford to them -- and even they may have to sacrifice. But everyone else has to be considered to be 'on the chopping block'. Bus drivers, cafeteria workers, administrators, secretaries. We must have the lion's share go to the techers.
Dar K July 22, 2011 at 12:23 PM
Transportation's bid would have saved the district about 37 percent. Transportation took what amounted to a 12% pay cut last year. Important facts to know !
jones July 22, 2011 at 02:27 PM
How can you assume that the new trasportation drivers will not be caring and nice. Do you all really think that the only good bus drivers are in the district. Wow that is some egos.
Darken July 23, 2011 at 06:15 AM
For a matter of fact I do. I knew the driver who took my child to school everyday. And, I have been on several field trips with her classes. Most of those field trips were driven by Trinity. Several times, the driver got lost, we missed out on part of the presentations, had to leave early from the field trip, and the driver got lost again, not on just one occasion, SEVERAL. Each time, the driver told us, "I was just hired to drive." I found out later that even though they got lost, took extra time to get to and from destinations, the school was still charged full price for their services, along with over-time for the delays. The drivers that worked for PCCS didn't get lost, got us where we were going and back without incident, and had a pleasant demeanor. I cannot say the same for the "hired" transit drivers. No matter, I will not allow my child to ride with someone who wasn't or isn't a PCCS employee, I will take her to school, pick her up and I guess that is now the end of field trips entirely.
Robin Moore July 23, 2011 at 02:55 PM
Not only that, but I guarantee you that from now on this district is going downhills. The board office believes that they took the liability of transportation right off their shoulders and put it on another companies shoulders, but they haven't realized that the school buses are still going to be under Plymouth/Canton school districts name, and if there is an accident coming from one of the companies drivers, then Plymouth/Canton along with the company will both be sued. Their only renting the buses, not buying them out. And Yea the saying goes, that we will be the first hired, but if I am guessing right, this is the same company, that came out and took over Garden City, telling the Garden City drivers and monitors, that they will be the first people to get hired back in, and a few days after telling them that they will be the first people to get hired in, they were told, that they were fired, because the company already hired in all of the people that they needed to run the transportation. So, them telling us that we are the first people to get hired if we want the job, I guess we will have to wait and see on that one, because they could be bluffing, while they hire a lot of new people, so they could finally tell us that we are fired.
jones July 23, 2011 at 03:14 PM
well I loved our bus driver too. I also knew his name and trusted him with my most precious thing,my daughter. However, I think it is crazy to ASSUME that the new company will have a bunch of CRAZY non Trustworthy people working for them.Yes, there will be a learning curve on the routes as they are not familiar with some of the areas but when our regular bus driver was not driving the subs were always late and carrying "Mapquest" directions and how is this different! I agree that I would rather have the PCCS drivers, however I think that we shouldn't protest a change without seeing how it works for a week or so of school. The new company could be great too.
Darken July 28, 2011 at 09:12 AM
Not just the responsibility of the vehicles and drivers, they will actually be adding to the cost for residents with the hike in the fuel prices. The fuel will now have to be paid for by the privatized company, and this means TAXES on the fuel, which the district did NOT have to pay. This means more taxes for those of us who live in the district. Please, all drivers and monitors, file for your rightful unemployment benefits, if nothing else, the state owes you that much. Your own pay goes into the funds for that, don't let them lie to you and say that the employer pays it in full, that's BS, I work in HR and I know where and who the funds come from.
Darken July 30, 2011 at 07:56 AM
Robin, I am sorry to tell you, but with the vote, you were fired. You have the option to "apply" for a position in the new company with no guarantees that you will be hired. I am deeply sorry that this has happened, I am personally ashamed of my fellow citizens that this was allowed to happen. I don't know what else to say other than I appreciated the driver that took my child to and from school, and I regret the decision of the school board and the state that this has become an issue. Those of us that are residents in Plymouth-Canton, we make enough money to fund teachers, bussing, custodial, food service, I cannot fathom why this is happening, other than those that have purchased a house in the area without being able to furnish the home, fund the schools, fire and police departments fully, do not wish to pay any more in taxes. I personally think that if you can't afford to live here and pay for your community services, move - move to Detroit, move out of state, get the dickens out of here, because if you don't support your community whole heartedly, you DO NOT deserve to live here.
TJP1071 August 01, 2011 at 04:34 PM
My daughters PCCS bus driver was not the best. We had issues all year long and the snotty comments that my children heard her say were uncalled for. She broke rules and did whatever she wanted. Called parents snotty names and treated the students like she was in middle school herself. Left the school before the shuttle she had students to pick up even got there.....left my child 3 times without a ride home this past year alone. Not unhappy that she will be gone. Unions do not have a place in modern society.
MR. VALENTINE GRANOWICZ September 07, 2011 at 12:43 PM
Bruce Koldys has hit the nail on the head. I agree with him and it is sad that the school board has gotten away with this move. Nobody's job is safe any more.

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