Over one-quarter of Michigan school districts contract out with private companies to bus students to and from school. Of the state’s 539 districts, 141 of them — 26.2 percent — do so. In 2005, only 21 districts contracted out, a number that grew to 139 in 2015 and has stayed around that level since.
In 2018, four districts started a contract for the service and four districts brought it back in house.
Graphic 4: Transportation Service Contracting, 2003, 2005-2018
Potterville Public Schools had relied on another district for transportation services but then contracted with a private vendor. Deerfield Community School District contracted out transportation in the fall of 2017 to save money. Bay City Public Schools moved to a contractor in June 2018. Schoolcraft Community School District began to contract out transportation services through attrition.
Hale Area Schools decided to bring transportation services back in house, despite a cost increase. Lawton Community School’s transportation director was contracted through a leasing agency, but that person retired, and the position is being shared between in-district employees. Unionville Sebewaing Area Schools had used a leasing agency to provide bus drivers but is not using any now. Concord Community School District had leased out a joint maintenance and transportation manager, but the leasing agency went out of business. No district that brought transportation services in house reported savings.
Regular student transportation is an optional service under state law, and 21 districts do not bus students to and from school.