Proposed Transportation Policy Changes

Posted on: April 5, 2022

The School Committee has a series of important proposed changes to the SPS transportation policy before them for consideration which would take effect at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year if approved. This new policy has been read into the meeting twice now and committee members are asking for feedback from families before any change is voted on and implemented.  The third reading of this policy and vote to implement will occur on Monday, April 25th. Contact information for School Committee members can be found here. And the current policy can be found here.

Proposed Changes

What are the state requirements regarding bus transportation?
All children in grades kindergarten through six who reside more than two miles from the school they are entitled to attend and the nearest school bus stop is more than one mile from their residence and all children residing in regional school districts in grades kindergarten through twelve. Further, the school district is required to provide transportation for students with disabilities who have transportation included as part of their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and 504 Plans.*
*The above students are designated “mandatory riders” by the state of Massachusetts.

What is the current SPS Transportation Policy?
The current policy states, “The School Committee, at its discretion and to the extent permitted by Massachusetts’ law, shall authorize transportation for a fee to students who are not entitled to District-provided transportation to and from school as stated above.” To date, this has been handled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Who are mandatory riders in the proposed new policy?

  • Grades K-2: Students who live 1 mile or more from school 
  • Grades 3-5: Students who live 1.5 miles or more from school 
  • Grades 6-12: Students who live 2 miles or more from school 

*the above will be designated “mandatory riders” by SPS

Can I petition to have my child ride the bus if they don’t meet those criteria?
Yes, but only if seats remain after all mandatory riders have been accommodated. Additional seats will be assigned on a priority basis to non-mandatory students using the following criteria:

  • Economic status
  • Unsafe zones
  • Younger sibling rider

How will those criteria be weighted?
After all mandatory riders have been assigned seats, if additional seats are available, the SPS Transportation Director will assess the above criteria for non-mandatory ridership requests using the following tiered assignment process:

  • Tier One: applicants meet all three of the non-mandatory rider request criteria.
  • Tier Two: applicants meet two of the three non-mandatory rider request criteria. 
  • Tier Three: applicants meet one of the three non-mandatory rider request criteria.

Consideration of the above will only be provided to:

  • Grades 3-5: Students who live between 1 and 1.5 miles from school
  • Grade 6-12: Students who live over 1.5 but less than 2 miles from school

NOTE: Students in grades k-5 who live under 1 mile from school and students in grades 6-12 who live under 1.5 miles from school can seek a special exemption from the Superintendent if the walking area to school is designated an unsafe zone. In approved cases, the student will be placed into tier three for ridership consideration. 

We urge you to ask any questions, get clarification, and share your thoughts about these proposed changes with the School Committee members. Contact information for School Committee members can be found here. And the current policy can be found here.