Districts are not required by law to provide transportation, but most do. Of the 540 districts in the state, 518 bus students to and from school. And more districts are contracting out with private vendors to do it.

This year, 26.1 percent of school districts contracted out transportation services, up from 25.5 percent the year before. In 2003, only one in every 26 districts used private vendors to transport students and now over one in four do it. This year, seven districts started transportation contracts and four insourced the service.

Out of the seven districts who began outsourcing their transportation services, five reported saving money through the contracts. Cedar Springs is reportedly saving between $350,000 and $400,000 for the first year of their contract. Kent City Community Schools reports that the combination of their regular and special education contracts will save the district $150,000 a year. Marion Public Schools reports that they will save $34,000.

Carney-Nadeau Public School had two contracted bus drivers last year, but one retired and the other left for a different job and the district does not plan to replace these employees with contract labor. Lake Linden-Hubbell Public Schools insourced their bus drivers because the leasing agency they were using no longer insured the bus drivers they were supplying the district. Whitefish Township Schools brought their bus drivers back in house in the hopes that their employees would “put more pride in their work.” The company that provided Vanderbilt Area Schools with a transportation worker closed, and the district did not hire a contracted worker as a replacement.

Graphic 6: Transportation Service Contracting, 2003, 2005-2017

Graphic 6: Transportation Service Contracting, 2003, 2005-2017 - click to enlarge

*Data were not collected in 2004.

Graphic 7: Districts With New Transportation Services Contracts

Beecher Community Schools

Cedar Springs Public Schools

Clarenceville School District

Frontier Schools

Kent City Community Schools

Marion Public Schools

Northwest Community Schools