Manchester and Chelsea schools to consolidate busing services
This story has been updated One year after three school districts on the eastern side of Washtenaw County began consolidating busing services, two school districts on the western edge will begin doing the same.
Manchester Community Schools and the Chelsea School District will work together to combine their transportation services for the 2011-12 school year, according to Chelsea superintendent Dave Killips. Manchester transportation director Jeff Knasiak will be the transportation director for both districts, and mechanic services will be based out of Chelsea.
Killips said he worked closely with former Manchester superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin to devise the partnership, which was approved by the Manchester school board in late June but didn't require Chelsea school board approval.
“We are always looking at ways to save money but maintain the quality of services every district has,” Killips said.
The consolidation will save Chelsea about $40,000 a year, Killips said. The amount of money Manchester schools will save through the partnership was not immediately available Tuesday. Killips said the savings will come from sharing the cost of the transportation director and mechanics with Manchester schools.
The consolidation will result in at least one layoff, as Manchester schools will lose their mechanic, Michael Winalis, on July 15 because Chelsea will now employ the mechanics for the districts, according to a Heritage report.
Knasiak was unable to be reached for this story due to a vacation, and Manchester interim superintendent Kevin Mowrer could not be reached Tuesday.
Killips said the districts will see the normal route adjustments that come every year, but otherwise there shouldn’t be a noticeable difference in transportation services for the two districts.
One adjustment will be not having a transportation director available at both districts on a regular basis. Knasiak will split time between the two districts, and an attendant will be available at whichever building he is not at on that particular day.
“Employees may have some adjustment because a transportation director is not available at all times and that’ll take some adjustment,” he said. “We think adults should be able to adjust rather than kids have to adjust to new bus routes.”
Knasiak has already begun transitioning into his new role and is learning Chelsea’s routes and idiosyncrasies to prepare for the school year, Killips said.
Chelsea’s former transportation director Chris Frayer retired at the end of June and Knasiak met several times with Frayer to discuss the transition. A transportation director coordinates routes and drivers and oversees repairs and upkeep of the bus fleets.
Killips said Knasiak should have an easy time working with both districts as Chelsea and Manchester are both rural school districts with many dirt roads and similarly spaced bus stops.
It’s not the first consolidation move by Chelsea schools.
Killips said Chelsea and Dexter Community Schools shared a food service director and that experience will help prepare Chelsea to work with Manchester schools.
“There were a few bumps in the road we didn’t think of as we moved forward but we’re very happy with Dexter,” he said.
Despite all of the cuts that have had to come from school budgets in recent years, Killips said it’s important to keep education programs as free from harm as can be.
The consolidation between Chelsea and Manchester is an attempt by both districts to keep as much money going toward learning as possible, he said.
“We continue to look at the use options because we’re attempting to keep as many dollars in the classroom as possible,” Killips said.