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Minuteman Bus Cut Gets Parents Fuming

Superintendent says cut was necessary.

Parents of Medford students who attend Minuteman Regional High School accused Superintendent Roy Belson of exposing their children to bullying, and bullying, himself, during Monday's Medford School Committee meeting.

Medford Public Schools used to provide a bus exculsively for transportation to and from Minuteman, but that stopped this year in a cost-cutting move. Since Minuteman's first day on Aug. 27, a bus takes students to Minuteman about 6:30 a.m., returns to Medford to run Elementary school pick-ups and drop-offs, and returns to Minuteman about 3:30 p.m. to bring students back to Medford. But that leaves students at the school with about an hour between school's end and the bus arriving.

During Monday's meeting, several parents accused Belson -- who previously cited a combination of rising transportation costs and increases in costs payed to Minuteman as reasons for consolidating buses -- of putting children in the middle of bargaining.

"For the past two weeks the Medford students who ride the bus to Minuteman have been the victims of bullying," parent Angela Moore said Monday. "...We are astonished that such animosity is allowed to dictate our school system."

Before instituting the current plan, Belson had previously called for funding for the Minuteman bus to be cut entirely and replace it with MBTA passes for students. On Monday, he admitted those initial plans were partly made in an effort to bring attention to what he views as issues with funding for the school.

"We needed something to get people to be really interested in what was going on," Belson said.

Medford Public Schools pick up a portion of the tuition cost for Minuteman students who live in Medford. The district will pay over $1 million to the public regional school this year, with the cost per pupil going up $3,800 from last year, Belson said.

Days before the start of school, an agreement was reached where Minuteman would provide the return bus service for Medford students by adding on to the bus that runs to Arlington, Belson said. But the regional school backed out of that agreement when they learned they wouldn't receive as much transportation reimbursement from the state as they expected, he said.

On Monday, Belson defended his decision to cut the bus, a move he said saves the district about $60,000 and has approval of the state's Department of Education.

"Reality tells us that we have to do something to recapture our cost if we aren’t going to take away from students who stay in Medford," Belson said.

The bus arrives at Minuteman at 3:30 p.m. for pick-up everyday except Wednesday, when it arrives at 2:30 p.m., since Medford elementary schools have early release that day, Belson said. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Minuteman offers help time with teachers for an hour after school, he said, leaving only Monday and Friday as days without structure for the hour.

 "I don’t think there’s anything wrong with our students getting afterschool help," he said.

But Patricia Flynn, a Medford resident and parent of a Minuteman student, said that time leaves her son and other students vulnerable to bullying.

"This is not an inconvenience, this is an attack on a child’s education," she said Monday. "This is unsafe."

Belson said he disagreed that the students were unsafe, and if bullying occurred it should be handled by Minuteman.

"If they are being bullied in the Minuteman environment, then what is Minuteman doing about it?" he said.

Mayor Michael McGlynn, chairman of the school committee, said he would to review the matter with the city's procurement and finance offices and Belson would have to discuss the matter further with both Minuteman and the city's bus provider.

"I thought it was a little better than I’m finding out tonight," he said Monday, "but it’s not going to get solved tonight."

School Committee Member Erin DiBenedetto suggested holding an emergency committee of the whole meeting to address the matter, but Belson disagreed. Better progress would be made behind closed doors, he said.

"Letting a bunch of people vent, that might be a good exersise, but it’s not going to get you very far," he said.

butch pierce September 13, 2012 at 03:21 AM
point being millions are leaving. but just 51 students being targetted. we as a community, provide services for all are members. Thats what makes us a Strong civil communitee. When people try to devide groups thats when we are no longer a Strong or civil community.
Patricia Flynn September 13, 2012 at 03:23 AM
I certainly do butch.
Kay Bee September 13, 2012 at 03:23 AM
I think they should start looking at our own vocational school, it is a disgrace, invest money and update the programs, see what other Voc's are offering and look to be competitive. There are so many different programs being offered outside of Medford. You would think this is what our useless Superintendent should be doing. We are behind the times, no wonder the kids who want to learn a trade have to go somewhere else! INVEST IN OUR CITY AND SCHOOLS AND GIVE KIDS SOMETHING TO STAY HERE FOR!!
Patricia Flynn September 13, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Mr. Cormio, I don't understand why you are taking what I say out of context. Please show me where I have provided situations where the bullying has occurred. This is absurd. You are a teacher for god sake. You know bullying goes on in every school. Are you trying to tell me, it doesn't go on in the voke? It is a known fact that most occurrences of bullying happen during unstructured times. Why are you acting this way?
Lcs September 13, 2012 at 03:38 AM
To ms Flynn you should be thankful of the education your child is getting through the city of Medford at $15,000 a year. You're complaining about a high school students being unsupervised yet you say you work so Would the child be supervised if he got home an hour earlier there is no problem with the child staying after school for further education especially child on an IEP they can always use the extra help if they are being bullied maybe they should go join a social group or sports you are complaining about highschooler's walking home bullying and being in the dark if you want them home so fast Either pick them up or try to find a ride by another parent another student or there is a T bus stop right at the end of Minuteman's driveway this is ridiculous. Theese kids need to learn to be self sufficient in life not babied If you sent your child to a private high school you would have to get them there yourself other cities have not had busses in years and the MHS students busses are so crowded it is scary so just be grateful stop sending out 10 page letters as a parent of a minuteman student and a elementary who takes a bus and walks home every day also be thankful they gave us the bus!!!
Patricia Flynn September 13, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Maybe you should read some of the 10 pages I wrote. You might learn something. Then, perhaps use your real name.
Patricia Flynn September 13, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Maybe you should read some of the 10 pages I wrote. You might learn something. Then, perhaps use your real name.
Patricia Flynn September 13, 2012 at 03:48 AM
good night
Patricia Flynn September 13, 2012 at 03:55 AM
One more thing. A question for the Medford Patch. Why do people on this website continuously attack others? There are stories about this on other sites and I nor have others been attacked in such a manner. Very sad.
Gearoidin Ni Bhrian September 13, 2012 at 12:36 PM
We should all just "WAIT" for the next meeting that is supposed to be held with the Council, The Mayor, Mr. Belson, Minuteman and especially us Minuteman Parents/Students... All we want is a "Public Meeting" of all the above mentioned ASAP! Hold all thoughts until we are notified about a date for this meeting. A lot of comments are being misunderstood - We as parents want the best for each of our children when it comes to travelling to and from school in a safe manner!!!!
Maria Fenn September 13, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Well put Rich!
Maria Fenn September 13, 2012 at 01:19 PM
good comment
r drobneck September 13, 2012 at 02:21 PM
as a footnote to mr. pierce's link: the medford figures are for the entire 9 school district while the minuteman figures reflect the only school in the minuteman district, minuteman tech. if you do a little division, you can see how wealthy the minuteman "district" is compared to medford as a district.
r drobneck September 13, 2012 at 03:53 PM
As a colleague of Mr Cormio and a MVTHS teacher, I've followed this discussion with interest. The larger issue here, separate and apart from the busing concern, is the circular circumstance surrounding the Vocational school, the perceptions and the realities. Parents send their children out of district to other schools for a variety of reasons. These children take with them funding from the sending school's budget, not some mystical, ethereal money pot. Every child going to Minuteman takes roughly $18,000 away from the Voc budget plus roughly another $5000 if the child has an IEP. Kay Bee, in this thread, pronounced my school, of which I am very proud and for whom I work very hard, "a disgrace." Other contributors to other threads regarding other MVTHS vs MM issues have done the same. Parents who read or hear such comments may simply accept them as gospel without further investigation. These same parents, basing their decision upon hearsay, might then send their children out of district and taking with them more funding. And so the cycle continues and MVTHS remains perpetually underfunded and undersubscribed.
r drobneck September 13, 2012 at 04:07 PM
The perception that MVTHS is "a disgrace" or horrible or dangerous goes largely unsubstantiated and thus the perception becomes "reality." Perhaps Kay Bee will explain what "a disgrace" means and how this conclusion was reached. Here are some MVTHS realities: our MCAS rate compares favorably among all vocational schools. Our students freely and regularly contribute to their community through public works, community outreach, and charitable endeavors. Our students regularly participate in sport across its spectrum and become varsity stars and captains. Their faculty are coaches. Our students regularly matriculate to 2 & 4 year programs. Our student to teacher ratio at MVTHS is about 8.4 to 1; Minuteman's is 7.4 to 1. Considering the funding disparity, MVTHS holds its own. As Mr. Cormio said of our work ethic, we do what we have to with what we're given. I am proud to work hard for the community of Medford through its Vocational School and I am proud of our graduates. I certainly hope more of the community pays MVTHS a visit during our upcoming Open Houses, I'd welcome the opportunity to speak with you. Perhaps we can convince you keep your children and your taxes in our community.
Patricia Flynn September 13, 2012 at 06:42 PM
r drobneck - I am surprised as to where Medford is spending their monies. Meaning 2 million on a pool and very, very little to improve it's vocational school.
Patricia Flynn September 13, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Concerned Citizen: I am not attacking a teacher. I am simply commenting responsibly to the comments they are directed to me. I don't know if you have read all of the posts or reflected on your own posts, if you did you would see my character IS being attacked by certain people. Our positions are different, not a problem, but when you attack a person is it not only hurtful but distracts from the problem at hand. With all do respect, I do not believe I am confusing the issues. Perhaps I have over looked this, so please do enlighten me Mr. Concerned Citizen and Mr. Cormio. Why are you hiding?
Patricia Flynn September 13, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Butch, It doesn't sound much like a community when people are being attacked and parenting skills put in question especially when these comments are unwarranted.
Patricia Flynn September 13, 2012 at 07:09 PM
r drobneck - The monies that are used to pay for Minuteman students DO NOT come from the monies that would have gone to the Voke. The School Budget is city wide. Why are you not angry and complaining that the city is spending over 2 million dollars on a pool and other costly projects that are taking funds away from enhancing education directly. I will tell you why, because there are more parents/students etc. that want and use these facilities. Doesn't make it right and it is unpopular to go against the majority and easier to go with. I understand that EVENTUALLY these projects will create some revenue for the city, however, I ask, how long will it take before we being to recoup these funds? And I never wrote that MVTHS was a disgrace, ever. I simply stated facts. I did explore the curriculum and visited the MVTHS as well as several other schools. I have been advocating that monies should be spent to improve the MVTHS. If you disagree that it needs improvements, than say you disagree. If I were you I would be angry at the Superintendent and School Committee for voting 2 million dollars away from the education of Medford. All that does is PUSH it's residents/children/students to seek out of district placements so they can gain the education and vocation they deserve. If the MVTHS is a good choice for some that is great. It wasn't a good choice for my son.
Patricia Flynn September 13, 2012 at 07:21 PM
r dbrobneck - I am glad to hear you are proud of your school, your students, your community. I am confused as to why you think, that I think otherwise. The fact that my child is attending another vocational school has nothing to do with the teachers at the MVTHS. I grew up in Medford. I too am a graduate of MHS, 2 of my children graduated MHS and are currently in law school and college, respectively. MHS was a good choice for those two particular children. MHS nor the MVTHS was not a good fit for two of our other children. I work in the Medford Community, support the businesses and am actively involved. I too, hope and believe the parents of upcoming high schoolers should pay MVTHS a visit. It may in-fact be a good fit for their children. I also hope that your school is provided with the funds it and Medford students deserves, as to compete with other vocational schools. To tell you the truth, there really is no need to have a conversation, as I have said I have already visited and spoken to many at the MVTHS and it is not a good fit for our student, but I thank you for the opportunity.
Rich Cormio September 14, 2012 at 01:24 AM
I am coming out of "hiding" to clarify a statement that I wrote last night. We at the voke enjoy a tremendous working relationship with the Mayor, school committee, and city council. Our students provide many cost-saving services to the city, and are always recognized for their hard work. Members of the school committee have visited our open house in the past, and we look forward to seeing them on Wednesday evening, November 14. OK, I'm going back to my hiding space at 489 Winthrop Street, room V201 where I work every day from 7:15am-3pm. My door is always open, unless I'm out of the room, at which time I can be paged. This IS my final post. Thank you for reading.
r drobneck September 14, 2012 at 03:55 AM
ms flynn: regarding the "a disgrace" quote, if you reread my first post I attributed that quote to Kay Bee directly and to other contributors to previous threads attached to previous busing articles, not you. If you like, i'd be happy to comb through previous articles to find similar comments posted by other respondents. Next, I am pleased that the Mayor & City Council are implementing the pool renovation project. My recollection of the pool is one of widespread community use. Our students utilized the pool as part of Health & Wellness class; the Swim team had its own facility. The team didn't have to be bussed around at the crack of dawn to practice. The Community School program scheduled community access to the pool on a sensible basis over and above renting it out as a revenue source. In fact, when Senior Citizens Swim was a regular feature, those same seniors came over to the Voke to participate in Shop projects. As many as 40 Seniors would get out of the pool, go to the Cosmotology shop for services as practiced by Voke students, then go to Cafe Electra thereafter for a student run luncheon experience. Some even had auto repair work performed by Auto tech. The promise of Vocational education was shared and realized by another facet of the Medford community. So, no, I am not angry over the proposed bond issue to renovate this valuable community resource, I welcome it. I wish your son success in his chosen trade area and hope that he enjoys his experience at Minuteman
Patricia Flynn September 14, 2012 at 11:11 AM
My sister and I grew up in that pool and i still rember Mr. Lennon (the gentleman who ran it) and the swim instructors who provided the swim, diving and life saving courses with great fondness. I went on to become a swim instructor at a summer camp.y children took swimming lessons there until it closed. Then they took them at Tufts, Arlington, and Reading Boys and Girls Club, Lynfield and Malden YMCA. We understood that the pool could not be repaired because of the huge cost during those times. We would love to see the pool repaired for our granddaughter who will be taking swimming lessons as well in 1 month. The point being, Theesfoes Voke needs the funds more. We. An send our children to our city a And possibly take on other atudenta from different cities thus receiving revenues/tuitions from those cities. Are you telling me you disagree?
Patricia Flynn September 14, 2012 at 06:21 PM
This is addressed to Lcs. Pls forward your name and or send me a private email with your contact info so I can have it removed.
r drobneck September 15, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Cafe Electra will re-open for this school year as soon as we get this year's students acclimated. Supt. Belson has never closed Cafe Electra.
ann September 16, 2012 at 10:06 PM
WOW Let it go. The biggest problem with the bus schedule is that no one was informed the bus was being cut until the end of August with school a week away. It does not give parentsor students advanced warning. Then we were told the students were getting T passes. Other students applications were denied because Medford decided they were not allowing students who chose two particular areas of interest were being moved to Roxbury and Cambridge. This was all done a week before school was starting, unfair!!! It is the right of every family to chose the best education for their children. Stop the insults and bullying. Everbody is allowed their opinion whether is be MHS Minuteman Charter School, etc. The whole situation was hush hush with no communication to parents. It is a concern because of the way it done by Mr. Belson. It was sneaky. Now it is still up in the air about the schedule. The students just want to get to and from school in a timely manner. So if you have negative comments about the children going to Minuteman too bad. It is an option and if you chose it great, and if you don't fine. Be polite.
MO September 16, 2012 at 10:51 PM
When the safe and timely transportation to and from school for each and every child in this city isn’t a top priority of the administration, then it’s time for a new administration.
Patricia Flynn September 17, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Absolutely!
Patricia Flynn September 17, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Thank you, I don't understand why some people are being so "mean". I showed a few friends, colleges and family members and they were very surprised at some of the comments and criticism.
Patricia Flynn September 17, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Agreed

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