Lansing School District Takes First Step with Transportation Consortium

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The Lansing School District Board meets at 519 W. Kalamazoo Street, Lansing, MI, on the first and third Thursday of every month.
Photography by Kara Albrecht

By Kara Albrecht
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Writer 

LANSING, MI. – The Lansing School District  joined the Ingham Intermediate School District’s  General Education Pupil Transportation Consortium with a unanimous 7-0 roll call vote on Oct. 4, 2012.

Lansing School District is ninth out of 12 districts to join the consortium. Three school districts already use it, and East Lansing is one of them.

In order for the Lansing School District to consider using the consortium for transportation, the first step was to join it. Joining the consortium could lead to the district contracting out for transportation services.

“The reason I’m looking at it is for cost; pure and simple,” said Assistant Superintendent for Operations, Sam Sinicropi. “It has nothing to do with the level of service we have.”

“As stewards of the peoples’ money here, we need to see if this is cost effective for us to do,” said Sinicropi. “That’s the reason we’d do it.”

Lansing School District Board Members discussing the Transportation Consortium.
Photography by Kara Albrecht

Intergovernmental Relations and Finance Committee member, Amy Hodgins, agreed.

“Basically more and more schools all over the United States are just trying to save money,” said Hodgins.

Looking Ahead

The district has until February 1, 2013, to make a   decision on using the consortium.

“Just looking at the consolidation of services within the consortium; it saves money and it practices regionalism, which are all things that the governor is advocating,” said Property Analyst Nicole Armbruster.

The next step for the Lansing School District is to look at the analysis of the consortium that the Ingham Intermediate School District is doing for them.  Would it be more beneficial to contract out for transportation or for the district to continue providing its own services?

“We know what our costs are now, but what we want to see what it will be if we do it through these guys,” said Sinicropi.

Currently, the district runs its own transportation. They own the buses and the drivers work for the district. If they choose to use the consortium, Dean Transportation is the company they will use.

Consortium Advantages

“An advantage of joining the consortium is that Dean would take into consideration our current employees and would give them seniority and keep them at their rate of pay,” said Armbruster.

Dean Transportation would also buy the buses that the district currently uses, which is another advantage.

Legislative Director Pete Spedafore said, “What would help us the most is that the retirement costs and benefits for the employees would go down because they would then be part of a privatized company; Dean Transportation.”

The Public

Amy Hodgins feels as if the consortium would receive a positive input from people except for one group.

“I feel like the only people who wouldn’t like the consortium are the unions, for labor reasons,” said Hodgins. “But the fact is, it is another business within a business. That being said, most of the employees should be able to keep their jobs.”

Due to the consortium just being joined, there is not much noise about the issue right now.

“There will eventually be a lot of public input on it, but we just entered into it tonight, so no one will have an opinion on it yet,” said Spedafore.

“Like I said, if it isn’t going to save us any money, there’s no reason to do it,” said Sinicropi.

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