In a cost-saving measure, Medford Public Schools will be using two fewer buses than last school year, according to Superintendent Roy Belson.
As part of the consolidation, a bus previously dedicated to Medford students attending Minuteman Regional High School in Lexington was eliminated, Belson said.
Instead, a bus will pick up Medford students attending Minuteman, drop them off in Lexington and return to Medford to run routes for Medford Public Schools, Belson said. After making a run of elementary school drop-offs in the afternoon, the bus will return to Lexington to pick up Minuteman students at 3:30 p.m., about an hour after the school day ends, except on Wednesdays when it will arrive in Lexington at 2:30 p.m., Belson said.
Belson had previously eliminated the bus to Minuteman in the school department's budget and called for MBTA passes to be distributed to students instead. That drew the ire of parents of students at the vocational school, some of whom are also unhappy with the new arrangement.
"We’ve met our obligation as far as the state is concerned, though it may not be what everyone had wanted," Belson said.
By eliminating the bus solely for Minuteman, Medford schools will save about $80,000 this school year, Belson said. The bus cuts were a result of a combination of increased funding to the regional school and rising costs of bus contracts, Belson said. Buses cost $250 per day last year compared to $310 per day this year, he said.
Belson said the state will look into regional vocational schools like Minuteman, which are allowed to accept students from outside their region. Most of their tution is paid for by their home municipality's public school system, which also pays for transportation.
Medford is paying over $1 million to Minuteman this school year in tuitions, more than double what it did a few years ago, Belson said.
"They say they don't increase their cost," Belson said. "Believe me, they do."