FRAMINGHAM – The elected 9-member Framingham School Committee unanimously approved a partial bus fee refund to families tonight, May 6, at its remote meeting.
Families at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year paid either $250 per child or $500 per family for bus transportation.
Schools have been physically closed in Framingham since March 11, and under an order by the Governor will not re-open this 2019-2020 school year due to the coronavirus.
The School Committee voted Wednesday night, May 6, to refund a portion of the bus fees to families.
Framingham Public Schools Executive Director of Finance and Operations Lincoln Lynch IV said just over 1,000 families will see a refund.
Lynch said families who paid $250 will see $88.89 refunded to them, but it will be a few weeks before the checks are issued by the City of Framingham.
The refund is pro-rated for the 64 days out of the 180 days students did not use the bus due to the pandemic.
Lynch told School Committee members during the Wednesday night meeting that process to return a portion of the fees was an “enormous” project.
He said the City’s accounting office will need 40-50 hours to establish each family as a vendor in the city’s system in order to issue a check.
Framingham has more than 9,000 students in the school system. It is estimated roughly 2 out of every 3 students use the bud transportation system.
District 6 School Committee member Geoffrey Epstein questioned why the City has to create 1,000+ vendor accounts for these families to issue a refund check, when their names & addresses already exist in the school system. Epstein wanted to know why if they paid for the bus through one system why they could not be refunded by the same system.
Lynch explained that the City uses a third party to allow parents to pay for bus transportation and that third-party system can not issue the refunds, the City of Framingham has to issue the refunds.
District 1 School Committee member Beverly Hugo said it “was the right thing to do” in discussing the partial refunds for bus transportation.
“Parents had paid for service,” they are not getting,” said Hugo.
“This community has been through many ups and downs with busing. The least we can do now in my opinion is to return a portion of the fee when no busing was provided. It is a tremendous project for city financial staff to process these refunds while working remotely. I thank them for the hours of work they will now undertake to ensure funds get returned, and thank everyone in advance for your patience awaiting this payment,” wrote School Committee Chair Adam Freudberg on his campaign page tonight.