Originally posted at 10:58 a.m. Last updated at noon with quotes from School Committee chair.
FRAMINGHAM – Framingham Public Schools is short bus drivers for the 2022-2023 school year.
And that means some students who would have had a bus will not be getting one.
Bus routes will go out August 23, said the school district.
“We have been made aware that we will only have sixty (60) bus drivers to start the 2022-2023 school year. In order to operate efficiently and get as many students requesting transportation on a bus to and from school in a safe and timely manner, the District needs seventy-seven (77) buses,” wrote Framingham Public Schools Executive Director of Finance and Operations Lincoln Lynch IV.
“Due to the driver shortage with which we are faced, students who requested transportation but are considered ineligible per School Committee Policy and Massachusetts General Laws may not be provided a ride to and from school,” wrote Lynch in an email that went out to families this morning, August 11.
“More specifically, School Committee Policy EEAA and Massachusetts General Law Chapter 71 Section 68 define “ineligible students” as those in Grades K-6 living less than 2 miles from their assigned school and all students in Grades 7-12,” wrote Lynch
“Even though most middle school students and all high school students are ineligible, we bus as many 7-12 students as possible on our buses,” wrote Lynch.
“Elementary students will be most affected by this driver shortage, so please plan accordingly,” Lynch wrote to parents just before 11 a.m.
This means that students who live within 2 miles of their elementary school may not get a seat on the bus, explained Lynch to SOURCE.
“I am disappointed and am truly sorry for the inconvenience this will cause families. I felt the need to alert you now instead of at a later August date. Please know that we are doing our best to provide as many ineligible riders with transportation as possible, but if your child is considered ineligible, please make alternative school transportation arrangements in case we are not able to provide it,” concluded Lynch in the email.
Lynch told SOURCE he wanted to get this news out to families as soon as possible, so they could make arrangements for their children to and from school.
“The national bus driver shortage is a disheartening show of inequity in action – an inequity that is tragically not unique to Framingham,” said School Committee Chair Priscila Sousa.
“After months of conversations with parents about the impact that transportation issues have on our students, I’m frustrated we are starting a school year with a driver shortage putting us in a more challenging position,” said Sousa to SOURCE.
“Over the past few months School Committee members have ridden the bus with our children to help identify needed support, shadowed the Director of Safety & Security to hear the radio messages coming in during bus rides, listened to bus drivers and requested to be invited to their meetings, pulled data and insisted on regular transportation updates,” said Sousa.
“The national driver shortage has left the District and School Committee constantly considering new possible solutions while holding NRT accountable for the commitment we all made to educate our children,” said School Committee Chair Sousa.
“Addressing this an absolute priority and we will continue to leave no stone unturned until this is no longer a reality for our students,” said Sousa.
By law, Framingham Public Schools must transport Framingham students who attend The MetroWest Jewish Day School, St. Bridget School, and the Christa McAuliffe Charter School by law.
Lynch said there should be no impact to their service.