BENTON HARBOR - A visit from the president of the Michigan Education Association teachers union was not enough to prevent the Benton Harbor school board from hiring a private firm to provide transportation services, according to the Benton Harbor Herald-Palladium.

The board voted 4-1 to sign a five-year contract with First Student Inc., of Cincinnati, which already provides busing in the nearby Niles district and for the Berrien Regional Educational Services Agency, the Herald-Palladium reported.

Iris Salters, MEA president, had joined other school employees in a protest rally outside the high school before the meeting, according to the report. She told the board that, "There will be a day when you rue the day you made this decision."

Administrators estimate that the district, currently running a deficit, will save about $2.75 million over five years by hiring First Student, the Herald-Palladium reported. Employees will be allowed to apply for jobs with First Student; those hired will retain their seniority as long as they apply by June 1, said Mike Medin, director of business services for First Student, the report said.

SOURCE:
The Benton Harbor Herald-Palladium, "Busing goes private,"
May 13, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A School Privatization
Primer
," June 26, 2007

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