ADRIAN, Mich. – Employees and residents have spoken out against the possibility of hiring private firms to provide custodial and bus service in Adrian Public Schools, but an official in a nearby district reported good results from private busing, according to two articles in The (Adrian) Daily Telegram.

Adrian currently is taking bids on transportation and custodial services as a way to save up to $350,000, the Daily Telegram reported. The district wants to cut $1.67 million to bring spending in line with revenue next year.

Competing claims about costs, safety, training, employee loyalty and quality of service have been raised, according to The Daily Telegram.

Superintendent Mike McAran of Tecumseh Public Schools told The Daily Telegram that there has been no difference in service or quality of employees since that district privatized bus service in the 1990s. Sue Dieter, contract manager for First Student, the company hired by Tecumseh, said driver training exceeds state requirements and that nearly every driver lives in the county, the Daily Telegram reported.

Heather Bacus, director of human resources for Adrian, said the district understands that private firms may not offer a comparable benefit package. The district pays an amount equal to 16.54 percent of each employee’s salary into a state pension fund and also 100 percent of the health insurance premium on behalf of custodians and bus drivers, The Daily Telegram reported.

Superintendent Chris Timmis said the district needs to consider the option as a way to make cuts away from the classroom, and school board member Terry Sheehan said no one has come forward with alternative ideas, according to the Daily Telegram.

Employees and students who addressed the school board at a recent meeting said that employee loyalty and past concessions should be taken into consideration, while a Michigan Education Association called privatization “risky,” the article said.

The (Adrian) Daily Telegram, “The other side: Privatization said to have advantages,” March 24, 2009

The (Adrian) Daily Telegram, “No privatization, crowd tells Adrian Board of Education,” March 24, 2009

Michigan Education Report, “Privatization numbers up again,” Aug. 19, 2008