Medford schools are going to continue their stand against paying bus fees for students attending Minuteman Regional High School in Lexington, according to Superintendent Roy Belson.
Belson addressed the subject before the city council Tuesday, as they considered the school department budget. There have been discussions with state and school officials, but nothing has changed since the matter was last touched upon publicly, he said.
"I can’t give anyone any assurances of anything except there are discussions going on," Belson said.
The Medford 2013 school budget includes cutting the bus from Medford to Minuteman, located in Lexington, and replacing it with MBTA passes for students. Belson had previously said the regional school had been raising its rates at an "astonishing" clip, and that the school bus cut was part of negotiations over the state's formula for determining student fees for regional vocational schools.
On Tuesday, Belson also accused the regional high school of aggressively recruiting students in Medford and other communities outside of the schools member cities and towns so it can pay for planned new facilities.
“Clearly they’ve gone out of their way to recruit to pay those things,” Belson said Tuesday. “The region won’t support it.”
Minuteman has 648 students, and 43 percent of them are from out of its member area, according to a May article in the Boston Globe.
The Medford School Department has $1 million allocated for regional vocational school tuitions in 2013. It is also up to Medford schools to decide what transportation to provide to the Medford residents attending Minuteman. For many students, taking public transportation would require them to take two buses and a train, and could take upwards of 90 minutes.
City Councilor Michael Marks suggested the city come to an agreement with nearby communities to offer a joint bus service that would cut costs.
"I think something needs to take place now as a fall back plan," Marks said.
But Belson said he wanted to stand firm against paying the fees for busing.
"We need to finish the intelligent discussions we’re having among the parties," Belson said.
City Councilor Robert Penta supported Belson's plan.
"If stick your head in sand, nothing’s going to change around here," he said.