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Medford Schools to Reduce Buses from 18 to 16, Merge Minuteman Bus

The district is facing rising costs for transportation, according to officials.

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."

cindy August 29, 2012 at 11:46 AM
not to mention waiting in winter with light snow. I think I read in a different unrelated post a concerned parent asking the question in regards to school busing for this year. Not sure why they would wait a week to drop this on parents, but it sounds like this has been suspected all along.
Alicia Hunt August 29, 2012 at 11:47 AM
I hope that since they are teenagers, attending a specialty school, they will be responsible enough to work on homework before leaving the school. How long before school starts will they be dropped off at the school? Medford High starts around 7:40 I believe, and I assume it takes the bus a while to get to a school several towns over during rush hour?
Jarret Bencks (Editor) August 29, 2012 at 12:13 PM
The bus is expected to arrive at Minuteman about 7:20 a.m., according to Belson. The school day at Minuteman starts at 7:45 a.m.
Gearoidin Ni Bhrian August 29, 2012 at 12:31 PM
All you parents who have student/students attending Minuteman should be very concerned about this Bus situation. I being a parent of a student attending Minuteman Regional High School is very concerned about the time change both early in the a.m. and very late in the p.m. Mr. Belson, you are only concerned and so preoccupied with the Minuteman Bus, what about the Bus you transport Medford Students in to The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden and also the Students who attend Essex Agricultural High School up in Danver????????? Answer that question for us and you by no means brought the cost of these "TWO BUS ROUTES" into your conversation regarding the Budget!!!!!!!! You should take time to sit down and rethink about this crazy schedule of bus pick-up and bus dro-off times. We are all in this for the safety of our child/children travelling to and from school. I don't know where your "BRAIN" is, but it certainly isn't functioning in the favor of all students!!!!!!
val cap August 29, 2012 at 12:32 PM
that isn't the point. the point is getting these poor kids up so early for school. to be at the first or second bus stop at 6:00. the bus should come at 6:15 and they say to be thre 10 minutes early just in case.These kids are still half asleep going to school.
val cap August 29, 2012 at 12:35 PM
wow Gearoidin I did not know about the other bused you have mentioned. so those buses will remain the same? that is so not right.
val cap August 29, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Alicia doing homework is not the point. the point is these poor kids have to be up so early then stay at school later and get home maybe after 4 or close to 4 and after being in school all day stay another hour. would you like to be in school longer than u have 2.????????????
Gearoidin Ni Bhrian August 29, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Val: Every point is realted to the Bus situation!!!! I totally agree with you about getting the student/students up early for school. The first stop is way too early! So much for Belson in having "Students making sure to get their rest" so that they can concentrate on academics etc..I wish he could exchange places with one of these students some day!
Gearoidin Ni Bhrian August 29, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Val: I have been a Minuteman Parent of two students for almost seven years now and YES there are buses to Malden and Danvers for many, many years! An answer to their "Bus Routes" would be greatly appreciated, right? Also, times are still the same for these students who reside in Medford and times had to be changed for "Minuteman Students". All I can say is, that this is a disgrace and should never, ever have taken place to begin with. Why punish our children! Belson should be ashamed of what he is doing to our children. We deserve our original bus and bus times to and from our school of choice and why Minuteman, what about Essex Agricultural and Mystic Valley Regional Charter School??????????We need an answer and one that compares the cost etc....Right???????
Katy Vitiello August 29, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Is the cosmetology program open to Minuteman folks? Maybe some of the $1,000,000 could flow back to Medford. Katy Vitiello
Gearoidin Ni Bhrian August 29, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Cosmetology is not offered to Medford Students at Minuteman. This is offered at Medford Voc! So, if you want cosmetology then you go to Medford Voc!!!!!!
val cap August 29, 2012 at 11:21 PM
thats right Gearoidin. and Katy students can only take courses not offered at the Medford voke at minuteman. maybe if the voke had more courses more students would go there.Gearoidin do u have a child attending there this year.?
ann August 30, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Just an update on the bus situaiton first day the bus showed up 45 minutes late because nobody infomred the parents or the kids it would be running on a later schedule because medford had no school this week. This was not posted or noted on any webiste. Also, the second day after we figures out the bus was running late, the kids headed out to the bus only to be standing around until 7:15 becaue the bus driver left early and around 7:15 only about 1/2 the kids made it to minuteman by bus. Also,Belson informed sevearl parents that Medford asked Minuteman president to share the buses with the Arlington buses and he was told no. This is unture because we called the principal at minuteman and he said this was never asked or stated. Okay third day, the bus shows up at 7:15. I wonder what time tomorrow. I called the bus copany several times about the schedule and I do not even know the workers knew what was going on. I was informed by the bus company to rent a bus for the school year is $60,000 not $80,000. So come this winter expect the kids to be home around 5:00 - 6:00. I had to drive my son to school on Tuesday and it took an hour round trip. This is a digrace and uncalled for. We all pay taxes cut the funds elsewhere like salaries. Do not take it out on kids seeking altenrative means of learning.
kc August 30, 2012 at 04:06 AM
I understand why so many people are upset, yes this has gotten very political. I think the positives need to be looked at though. First off 7:15 really is not that early folks, many Medford high school students are catching the MBTA buses that yes they in fact have to pay for either at the same time or earlier to make it to school on time. Being at school an hour later may stink at times but it does give students time to go back and see teachers/get extra help. With the extra time no longer does it fall on the parent to have to then pick them up because they wanted help in a class. Also this is high school people the bell may ring to signal the end of the day but this doesn't mean students will just be sitting waiting for this bus, by the time they finish talking to friends and getting their stuff together they may have an extra half hour. Add in the time it will take them to make sure they are in the proper spot looking for the bus what is it 20 minutes. It is a free bus, a luxury even Medford High School students don't get. There most certainly is both positives and negatives to the situation but at the end of the day it is a free bus!
Jarret Bencks (Editor) August 30, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Superintendent Roy Belson submitted an email this morning that included responses to some of the questions, complaints and concerns raised here. It is published as a letter to the editor: http://medford.patch.com/articles/letter-superintendent-belson-responds-to-complaints-questions-over-school-buses
butch pierce August 30, 2012 at 04:33 PM
kc were do you get 7:15 from ? my children also go to minuteman and they need to leave my home by 6 to catch the 6:10 bus the medford high kids are still sleeping then my chidren get home on a good day @ 4:30 then off to work , thats when they dont have sports.
butch pierce August 30, 2012 at 04:39 PM
listen 1st of all, this whole issue has nothing to do with a bus. this is belson's clever way to make it diffucult on families and students whom take thier children to minuteman. this is a tool of his, and the medford school committee to get parents from stop leaving the city. suggestion people improve your product and people will stop leaving.the voke is a disgrace !
butch pierce August 30, 2012 at 04:45 PM
the school committee should take note on how the city council is handleing the issue. i know the 52 familys and there relatives that vote in this city are watching.the school committe should open thier eyes use their own minds and stop following belson. they no whats at issue here and they have decided that they dont like the laws, of students can leave the city and they are trying to get around them.by using these 52 children. they want the number to stop growing by making it tough on the kids.
Katy Vitiello August 30, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I was thinking Medford could get money for having outside students attend the Voke and not just have money leaving Medford.How many students attend Minuteman from Medford?
Katy Vitiello August 30, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Which programs are these 52 children attending at Minuteman? Maybe the Voke could expand their course offering.
butch pierce August 30, 2012 at 08:41 PM
hi katy, long time no see. the problem isnt expanding . my children accually wanted to do the programs that the medford vo-tech offers. its just the poor job that the voke is doing that drove us away. the class rooms / Academics are awful. on top of most of the trades are not well funded.their is no funding for the voke in the buget beond payroll and up keep. although the high school itself ran by the former head master paul keuger has been a good school.and has been funded well by the city.
val cap August 30, 2012 at 10:13 PM
KC they will be in school by 7:15 and school starts at 7:45. How are these kids going to do well in school when they are still half asleep? u are right Butch your child must get on at the first bus stop right? Well Minute man offers much more than the Medford voke. such at Robotics, a whole course in computer tech. biotech. Marketing. ect. ect. If Medford offers course such as Hair dressing, or culiary arts so dose Minute man. students from Medford can not take these courses. they can only take the ones not offered in the voke. I think I heard there are about 50 student from Medford attending Minute man.
Monique August 31, 2012 at 01:55 AM
I want to make one point, when I drive my child to the bus stop at 6 in the morning, it is dark, and there are no cars on the road. It is unsafe, so why are people asking for children, to have a longer day than most adults that work full time have? To save how much? Also, why are Medford taxpayers paying for Malden and Everett students to ride our bus for FREE? I thought this was a money issue?
Monique August 31, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Maybe if Belson uses all his collaborations he has going, he can collect out of district bus fees from Malden and Everett, to help cover the costs. The school comittee should also be giving this thought, instead of ignoring Medford citizens with our questions and concerns. We need Bill O'Keefe relected!!!
elaine low September 01, 2012 at 04:11 AM
If it is true that the city of Medford pays for transportation to these other schools and, that it is the law, that Medford pay for transportation to/from Minuteman, but is going to extreme means not to do so safely and efficiently, Minuteman parents should band together and sue Mr. Belson and the city of Medford for breach of contract and neglecting their duties & responsibilities to the students, parents, and tax payers of Medford. Sometimes this is the only thing that works. Hopefully, some of these students have legally protected plans in place that address this issue. Since Mr. Belson seems to have no regard for the students safety, education, etc further steps should be taken to ensure that some official representing the city of Medford steps up and makes sure that the city of Medford does the right thing.
Adem Althor September 01, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Thanks Jarret. I'll make a note of that.
medford citizen September 03, 2012 at 04:19 AM
KC the 7:15 arrival time is just belsons estimate!! First day of school the bus arrived at 6:56 am to an empty school!! I bet Belson wasn't even in his office yet!! My daughter is a sophmore and was on her bus and home by 3:30 last yr so ur estimated 20 minute window after schoolis not so..... These children in the winter will be getting on the bus in the dark in the am and getting off in the dark in the pm.. I can gaurantee belson will not be in his office for this many hours! Now lets discuss the fact that this bus needs to make it back in time to pick up elementary students....whats going to happen when the bus hits traffic,bad weather,breaks down and we have 50 1st through 5th grade students standing on street corners alll over medford in the snow waiting for there bus! Also Belson is very aware that he is paying for malden annd everett students to get to minuteman everyday...when mentioned at school committee meetingg he responded with "malden and everett do us plebty of favors!" Ha I would love to know what these favors are! They should be sharing in this cost! Minutemans superintendant suggested that mm and medford voc team up but belsons response was medford voc wouldn't benefit from this!! He clearly hasnt been in an acedemic classroom at the voc because they could benefit from teaming up with my sons pre school class! them are!!!! And I agree bring Billy Okeefe stand up to belson!
medford citizen September 03, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Although Belsons position is not elected the rest of school committe is and they should try and remember this before they follow suit!!! And Monique I agree...bring back Billy Okeefe,he was the only one to stand up to belson!!!!
L. Martin September 03, 2012 at 01:32 PM
My next door neighbor's daughter was picked up every morning right at her doorstep to go to Essex Aggie. This girl didn't even have to wait at a bus stop. The bus came to her house and beeped. I was unaware that the Medford public schools picked up the tab on that one. How is that fair? And frankly, the Voke is a disgraceful vocational school. Look at the drop out rate. It has been for years and it is getting worse. It is a disfunctional school and offers very little to its students. It is a melting pot for students who can't make it anywhere else. Not all students. But the majority. Just walk down the hallway of the Voke and you know right off the bat that there is no investment being made in that school. Nothing. It is horrible and disgraceful and Medford should be ashamed. Just take a walk once into the doors of Minuteman and you automatically get the feeling that this is a functioning vocational school where you know your child is going to get a good education and a wonderful high school learning experience. They care. Medford doesn't. I'm not overly concerned about the bus times because it is not that drastic and kids have to learn to toughen up sometimes. What I'm more concerned about is Belson's inability to see the truth and admit to it, and that is that he is at the helm of a high school and a vocational school that are sub par and that is why so many parents in this city choose to send their kids elsewhere.
medford citizen September 03, 2012 at 01:51 PM
L.Martin, belson won't open his eyes because this battle has become about his EGO!!!! And you are 100% right about the medford voc.

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