With the upcoming millage election approaching, I would like to shed light on a piece of school finance that is often overlooked. Covering 604 square miles, Alpena Public Schools bears the cost of busing, in two bus runs, an entire county of students to school each day. We are the largest in area in the entire Lower Peninsula. Many school districts in Michigan do not need to provide busing because their students are able to walk to school. Yet, we receive the same funding as those schools.
What is our cost for busing? Here are the numbers: Daily, our buses travel a distance equivalent to the distance from here to Florida and back. During the 2011-2012 school year, our buses traveled 3,537 miles per day (a round trip to Disney World is 2,776 miles). Our average cost of busing per day is $11,000. That daily cost, times 175 school days that year, brings our yearly busing cost to $1,925,000.
I know very well, from working in my classroom and through my role as a college trustee, the reality of dealing with budgets, and I do believe busing is an essential service that we need to provide. The fact is that we have a cost of $11,000 a day that many districts, with whom we compete on state exams, do not have to cover.
Until the state deals with this inequity, we need to take care of our own. Please keep this in mind as you vote on Feb. 26.
Alpena Public Schools