Wareham Public Schools bus transportation fee approved

By Lydia Goerner | May 09, 2018
Photo by: Lydia Goerner Michael MacMillan, left, and Jamie Andrews propose a transportation fee at Wednesday's School Committee meeting.

Wareham families will have to pay for transportation to public schools beginning next year.

Officials cited rising costs as the reason for implementing the fees, which were approved by the School Committee on May 9.

Families will pay $100 for the first student using transportation, $75 for the second student in the family, and $50 for the third student, with a family cap of $225, said Transportation Manager Jamie Andrews.

While the town pays for the purchase of new vehicles and maintenance, the School Department's costs for transportation are skyrocketing due to an increase in driver salaries, increased costs for services for students who live out of the district, and a greater number of routes, officials said.

Out of a total of 2,176 students in the district, 546 will need to pay fees for transportation, Andrews said.

Families of children in kindergarten through sixth grade must pay the fee if a student is bused fewer than 2 miles from their home to the school. Massachusetts law requires that students in kindergarten through sixth grade who live more than 2 miles away be transported free of charge.

Families of students in grades seven through 12 will pay the fee regardless of the number of miles.

Families with children whose mandated "individual education plans" include transportation will not have to pay transportation fees.

Students who are identified by the state as eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch will qualify for a full waiver of the bus fee.

Presently, around 1,600 students are bused to school in Wareham, said Business Manager Michael MacMillan. He estimates that the School Department could receive around $40,000 from the transportation fee.

The School Committee was split on whether to approve the fee. Vice-Chair Mary Morgan noted that more parents may drive their children to school with a fee in place.

Ultimately, the fees were approved by a vote of 3-2, with Morgan and Rebekah Pratt voting against the measure.

Families must apply for a bus pass by June 15 in order for children to be included in the upcoming year's bus routes. Payment of fees, if required, is due by this date. Bus passes will be issued, and no child will be permitted to ride a bus without one.

Officials said the June deadline could help in planning bus routes, which could reduce inefficiencies and save up to $170,000 for the district.

No cash or personal checks will be accepted for the fee. Money orders and bank checks must be made payable to "Town of Wareham - Bus Fee" and mailed or returned, with an application, to the school each student attends.

Comments (17)
Posted by: Onset_mom | May 10, 2018 08:46

They should also accept cash and credit cards. I'm not against paying the transportation fee (though I'm not thrilled about an extra expense) but bank checks and money orders aren't free. It just adds insult to injury. Thank you Mary Morgan and Rebecca Pratt for thinking about the families

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | May 10, 2018 08:52

This is an exhausting topic.  So much so that it looks like Michael needs a pillow.  I know nothing about photographing for a newspaper.  But I do know that digital cameras allow many pictures to be taken allowing the best to be chosen.  Mr. MacMillan is a respectable guy and if I were him I’d be unhappy with that.

Posted by: WarehamSocks | May 10, 2018 10:28

WBTS, if you know nothing about it, keep your comments to yourself! This is a newspaper, not Vogue.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | May 10, 2018 10:34

I know what I can see in a picture.  They caught the poor guy in a bad position.

Posted by: brazz | May 10, 2018 18:21

ONSET_MOM- last sentence "The fee can also be paid online with a bank number or credit card." Bank number is just account # and routing #.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | May 10, 2018 20:34

Long past due! There should also be fees for transporting kids to special schools and the something other than a standard public education taking place there.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | May 10, 2018 20:36

All pictures are open to interpretation. As for this one, it appears to me that Mr. MacMillan is reading from a computer screen positioned in front of Jamie Andrews and that in doing so he's experiencing neck strain and attempting to relieve the strain by using his hands to support his head.


Posted by: cranberry bog | May 11, 2018 05:42

Maybe I read too quickly, but I dint see any information about where to go to pay. Listing the online site would’ve been helpful.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | May 11, 2018 10:32

That's a possibly Andrea.  I agree that all pictures are open to interpretation.  Maybe my monitor has super resolution, but I don't see eyes to support that possibility.  The two handed cradle to relieve neck strain...hmmm...idunno?  A caption bubble above with a bunch of Zs in it would not look out of place!    I've worked with Michael.  He's a good guy that will be missed.   I'm just saying that it wasn't the best picture of the guy.  He was caught at a bad moment whatever the reason.



Posted by: Andrea Smith | May 11, 2018 11:08

WBTS - Speaking from the perspective of someone who has a periodic pinched nerve/neck issue, the "two handed cradle" (your description not mine) can relieve neck strain.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | May 11, 2018 13:16

Here's a real question/concern of mine.  Are the schools prepared to manage the additional traffic generated by those that will start to drive their children to school in lieu of paying the fee?  I drive in and out of Viking Drive every morning.  It's fairly organized and the staff that directs traffic does a great job.  However, it's just on the verge of hectic and at times it gets backed-up.  Will additional cars overload their system?  Will they require additional resources to manage the additional traffic to ensure safety, thereby consuming some of the revenue generated by the bus fees?  That wouldn't make sense.  Has that been considered?  We can't forget what just happened to that nice lady that was directing traffic out there.  She never came back.  I hope she is ok!  More cars will increase risk for all!

Posted by: Andrea Smith | May 11, 2018 13:24

Add to the school related traffic concerns mentioned by Wareham By The Sea, the Decas School area which is already hazardous due to parents rushing in and out of Station Road for drop offs and pick ups and the close proximity of the Tobey Road Main Street three way stop which also has drivers rushing through the intersection often without complying with the stop signs.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | May 11, 2018 18:14

The price is a bargain big time. If parents choose to drive kids to school rather than pay it only shows why Wareham schools get so many dumb kids

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | May 11, 2018 18:31

Comical the way you put that!  But you'd be surprised how many will drive and refuse to pay the fee out of principle.  Pennywise pound foolish but stranger things happen all the time...  I drive mine because I enjoy seeing them off in the morning and I will pay the bus fee as well so they have options.  It is a bargain.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | May 11, 2018 22:24

51.8% of Wareham’s students are classified as “economically disadvantaged” (vs 32% State wide) so just foist it upon the other 48.2%? That’s the way to attract the middle class.

Posted by: bob | May 14, 2018 12:55

ONSETTOGETHER,You hit that right..Middle income families getting it sock to them again....

Posted by: Andrea Smith | May 14, 2018 16:23

What percentage of streets within two miles of Wareham's schools (due to be occupied in the fall) have sidewalks?

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