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Trenton Residents, Bus Drivers Unhappy With School Board's Decision to Outsource Transportation

Trenton Board of Education members voted in favor of outsourcing district transportation Monday night.

The overall response to members' decision to has been less than warm.

Former recommended board of education members select Dean Transportation for all district busing Monday night. Board members voted unanimously in favor of outsourcing.

Trenton residents and district bus drivers have had plenty to say about the decision since it came down Monday night at the regularly scheduled board of education meeting.

"I'll probably go home and cry tonight," Ann Dobson, Trenton Public Schools bus driver.

Ann Dobson has been driving a bus for TPS for 20 years and said she was hurt that the superintendent interns, who researched outsourcing transportation, had not visited the transportation department before making the recommendation.

"I really am kind of disappointed ...," Dobson said. "Nobody ever talked to anybody in our department."

Dobson said she was unsure current transportation employees would be able to keep their jobs, though each employee will have an opportunity to interview for their position with Dean Transportation.

"We had a great group and a lot of people are going to have to leave," Dobson said. "This is extremely disappointing. We had a wonderful team there."

Trenton residents have had similar reactions to the news, made evident on the Trenton Patch Facebook page:

  • Leah Derby: Welp...i don't think we should let our kids ride on buses driven by folks not in our community. We don't know those drivers! Can patch support a forum for each school to allow for car-pool planning by parents?
  • Michael T Lee: Talk about throwing our kids under the bus, dean trans makes money by busing kids, wonder how they cut corners?
  • Bob Baker: Well, just another nail in the coffin for TPS. Can anyone give me a good reason why any family would like to move into the city? We're just like any other school district now. Thank You school board!

The next step for district transportation will involve several meetings including TPS officials and Dean Transportation to write up a contract for services.

So far, one major stipulation in the contract was said to be to consider TPS employees first when Dean Transportation begins staffing, according to Wakeham.

"We want to provide an opportunity for our current transportation employees to remain employed in transportation," Wakeham said."We feel they are a valuable asset."

Wakeham added employees of Dean Transportation are gaurunteed a minimum number of hours per run. However, employment compensation would be decided upon by Dean Transportation and not TPS.

Wakeham was .

Nate Stemen (Editor) June 26, 2012 at 06:49 PM
What was your reaction when you heard TPS was outsourcing another department/service?
Patt Prill June 26, 2012 at 10:25 PM
The beliefs and philosophies of the current state administration seems to be to get the state of of the business of education. Outsourcing is encouraged and rewarded. Look at all of the districts that have oursourced custodial services, food services, substitute teachers and transportation. Only teachers and administrators are left as schhol district direct employees. (Look at the shift of many whole school districts to for-profit schrater schools.) If you don't like it, vote out the current state administration.
michelle June 27, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I agree with Patt. The issue is bigger than just Trenton alone. We have had so much of our funding cut. I actually feel bad for everyone, teachers, bus drivers and the school board for having to make these rotten decision. Unless the residents want to pay more in taxes or somehow contribute more to their children's education the city can't make money appear out of nowhere. I don't like outsourcing anything but it is still better than no buses. At least the people have a chance to try and interview for their jobs. It stinks; I've done it myself but these are tough times. I have no idea what to do when it is time for my son to go to college. He is a middle schooler now. I'm bugging him to do things that may earn him scholarships later. I only have a fraction of what he would need saved. I only have one child. I feel for the parents with larger families. Everyone is struggling right now. I always stand by my position though that if you are going to complain and bash people (the school board for example) then sit in the meetings and come up with solutions. Add to the discussion instead of creating more headaches. I'm sure they didn't want to outsource. They work with what they have. They could say that families who have kids who ride the bus can pay a fee for the services. I bet they would hate that. Someone did have a great idea though about maybe Patch having a place for people to work and carpool kids. I would be interested.
Ron June 27, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I certainly realize that we are in tough times and tough decisions have to be made. However, the Trenton Public School District is being destroyed one piece at a time. Bringing in a private contractor to bus our children has no connection to the community. Many of our bus drivers have children in the district and personally know a large number of the children they transport. Additionally, these same students know many of the the bus drivers as well. Bringing in a private contractor and those that they will hire and employ are concerned with nothing more than a pay check. Let's just hope that they have undergone and passed an extensive background check before they transport a single child.
Les June 27, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Welcome to the real world! What is it that the residents don't understand?? No job is guaranteed for life . The children will stil be transported ----- no issue there! The issue is that the drivers and mechanics earned more than the going wage prevalent in the state for such positions. I am sure that the childrens safety is uppermost in the minds of the board --and the have recommended an established (longevity) company to do the job. It is less expensive to outsource jobs than to do it internally. I can only hope that the next group to go will be maintenance and custodial staff. Outsiders - th their scale of mass can do the job less expensively. Benefits and wages are the major cost of running a school district. I am sure that Dean Transportation pays wages based not on a union contract scale, but on a quality of work basis.
Les June 27, 2012 at 03:22 PM
It is about time that school districts and local government in general realize that the money they spend comes from the citizens. It is time that they begin running governmental services just like private industry does ---- the administration of this state is doing a great job in waking up the people to this form of government. We do not need all of the people working for the distict or city or county ---privatize all governmental functions!
Ron June 27, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Sounds like Les may be linked to Dean Transportation or has certainly never lost his job due to outsourcing. Then to go on and say that you hope other district employees lose their jobs as well is so absurd and inhumane. How callous can one person be? I hate seeing anyone lose their job and that would include you Les.
Les June 27, 2012 at 10:15 PM
I have lost two jobs to outsourcing, and each one I wound up with a better position than I had in the past.
Les June 27, 2012 at 10:22 PM
And in no way am I connected with Dean Transportation.
JC June 28, 2012 at 02:43 AM
This is an unwise decision - a cut to the jobs of residents who own homes and pay taxes in the City. The companies who re-hire former school district employees do so at a much lower rate of pay with no benefits (health or retirement). No one can support a family on that wage or contribute to retirement. You will see many more foreclosed homes in the City as a result.
Ron June 28, 2012 at 06:04 AM
So just a disgruntled anti-union republican then with a lack of compassion for hard working families?
Les June 28, 2012 at 01:35 PM
No! an intelligent individual who has to look at the cost side of doing anything. Successful business people always look at the cost when making a decision. I am compassionate ---- I contribute to over 30 different organizations which meet my criteria for making a decision and spending cash! I guess we just have to live with the union mentality in this area of Michigan
J Past Resident June 28, 2012 at 06:05 PM
The pay that these non union employees receive will probably be paid on their quality of work. I'll agree with that. But in no way is the quality of work going to be the same as it is today. Your philosophy is right because less of a wage = lack of quality. If I'm not mistaken, TPS also has longevity when it comes to bussing the students. Do you expect that when there is a problem and discipline is needed that all instances will be reported and taken care of? I'm going to doubt that. Not only do the bus drivers drive the buses, most are mothers with strong disciplinarian skills. Someone filling in with a "just another job" will have the mentality of "I don't get paid enough to deal with this." The current bus drivers know all the kids by name within the first few weeks and establishing seating charts. Underpaid and underappreciated employees is grounds for an unhappy employee morale and can turn into higher employee turnover. I'm sorry, Les, that you have been replaced by privatized companies more than once. Unfortunately, to be privatized means you were probably part of a union and had some bad union experiences and only educated in your own eyes as a Republican (living in a democratic area) since unions require little education seeing most unions are skilled trades/labor/factory/non-degree (not on attack on those who have not pursued higher education). I understand your probably upset over the health care situation, but to take it out on the bus drivers just isn't right.
Les June 28, 2012 at 08:03 PM
I have never worked in a union setting ---to be privatized. I always have worked in private industry where profit is the main goal. The positions I lost were management positions that were eliminated due to a gain in efficiency and elimination of US based prodution. I have moved across the country two times to accept new positions - never having location be a requirement of a new position.
Ron June 28, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Well, then you should know and realize that the private sector and public sector serve very different roles. Private sector or industry is for profit and public sector is to provide a service while operating within a balanced budget. This mess that our economy is in did not occur overnight and certainly will not be fixed overnight. To blame bus drivers or unions for the financial problems is totally wrong. Just as wrong as it was to blame the auto industry for the collapse of michigan's economy. Les makes a point worth noting in that the private industry is all about profit. Yet he supports the current governor and his administration in their attack on struggling middle class families. With wages going down and workers losing their jobs to new employees at half their wage, while the big corporations, CEO's and oil companies rake in millions. Who will be able to afford anything until the cost of goods and services come in line with the new wage scale. But its all about the private industries maiin goal to make a profit.
Les June 28, 2012 at 11:35 PM
You are correct --the public sector is to provide a service --- but not at a cost that throws the budget out of whack. I am not blaming bus driversor any union members ---I am blaming the pilosophy of more and more for me ----- when will public service ever realize that it is us the taxpayers that provide their wages and benefits - not the government. Why are you blaming corporations, and CEOs for the economic issues? The CEOs in particular have stuck their entire neck on the line for the performance of their organizations. Do you know how much oil companiesreallymake for their investments?
Home Owner, Tax Payer June 29, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Bring in the Charter schools. Maybe they can raise the ACT scores.
Home Owner, Tax Payer June 29, 2012 at 02:22 AM
I just checked out all the ACT scores online and Woodhaven, Riverview and Grosse Ile are all higher than Trenton. This is embarrassing. Although not by much the highest in the county is Northville with a 24.30 All the scores are just shameful. We need better results from our schools.
Ron June 29, 2012 at 03:48 AM
That may be part of the reason Trenton didn't get the number of outside kids they had expected and hoped for. As I said initially they (school board) are destroying the school district one piece at a time and its only getting worse.
Bob the Builder June 29, 2012 at 05:12 PM
I can't believe these highly paid educators can't do the math! Outsourcing will cost AT LEAST $167,000 more in the 2nd - 5th year of the contract! We could buy 2 new buses a year with that money and the maintenance costs would go down because of the warranties on those buses. And we could keep our own drivers & aides!
Concerned resident July 03, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Yeah, but do they have their own Buses?

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