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.

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

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A School Privatization
," June 26, 2007

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