Currently Registering Only Riders in Grades K-6 Who Reside Over Two (2) Miles From School
At the school committee meeting this past Tuesday (7/28) evening, I shared the attached memo containing recommendations for the transportation of students this fall. Please refer to the memo and MA DESE student transportation guidelines contained at the end of the memo for a more comprehensive overview of the dilemma we face. In summary, it is operationally impossible to transport the same number of students this coming school year (2020/21), as we transported last year adhering to the health and safety guidelines provided by MA DESE, utilizing the same number of contracted large yellow school buses we have used in previous years – a total of 29. Under the guidelines we will be operating at 1/3 capacity on all buses. All districts are experiencing this hardship and the number of busses (and licensed drivers) that would be required to operate and transport all students that desire transportation, 1) are not available and 2) would come at an increased cost of $ 70K/bus.
Given this information, I recommended, and the school committee reluctantly supported, initially limiting the students eligible for large yellow school bus transportation to those students the district is legally obligated to provide with transportation – students in Kindergarten through Grade 6 that reside over 2 miles from their assigned school. All parents who have previously registered and paid a bus fee for their child(ren) to ride the bus during the 2020/21 school year, who are in Kindergarten through Grade 6 and reside under 2 miles from their assigned school, or are in Grades 7 – 12, will have their bus fees returned/reimbursed by the district. A separate note will be forthcoming from the Business Office with regard to the anticipated date and processing of returns/reimbursements. The transportation registration system has been altered at this time to only accept registrations for students in Kindergarten through Grade 6 that reside over 2 miles from their assigned school.
In the event all students the district is legally obligated to transport to school have been accommodated and additional seats on busses remain, it is my desire and the desire of the school committee to develop a process to allow additional students to take advantage of the available seats. This will be partially dictated by the learning model (in-person, hybrid or remote) the district implements for the fall which will be decided in the coming weeks. Neither I nor the school committee are pleased with this adjustment – it is unfortunately necessary to adhere to the student transportation health and safety guidelines provided by MA DESE.
We need to take this action now to allow sufficient time to remove ineligible students under this new guideline from our routing system and develop bus routes for the students the district is legally obligated to transport to, 1) ensure we have the capacity to transport the students we are legally obligated to transport and 2) identify potential additional/extra seats on buses we may make available to students as the school year begins.
Jay Lang, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
See the attached file for more information: 2020-2021 Transportation Flyer (K-6 Over 2 Miles Only)
The Transportation Office
Mr. Peter Brekalis
Phone: 978-251-5100 x 6942