Malden School Bus Cuts


In the Spring of 2016, the Malden Public School committee took a vote on whether or not to discontinue the grades K-6 public transportation.

The committee ended up voting yes to discontinue the school buses for the 2016-2017 school year. This cut was due to the $2.5 million budget gap in the school department and since transportation was $400k it was a unanimous vote to stop the funding for it. Joseph Gray, someone who is involved in the budget management of the city, says that he thinks the school bus cuts are “the latest casualty over many years of budget battles and casualties in the Malden city budget”. Mayor Gary Christenson talked about how the decision to cut of the buses was also “in an effort not to cut teaching and learning”. 

However these changes do not apply to the students that have Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or 504 Plans and receive the transportation due to this. Because of this over 100 students would have been taking the now discontinued school busses, had to figure out what to do.

At a School Committee meeting on August 29, 2016, they discussed the topic of the school bus cuts and about an option of parents paying for alternate transportation. There is a survey parents can take online to see how many parents and families might be interested in the proposed solution. They want to know if they would be interested in sharing the costs of the transportation by having to pay a fee for the 2016-2017 school year. Mayor Christenson says that they are “still exploring this option” so the cost hasn’t been settled. However, he mentions that they will try “to keep [the cost] reasonable and [to] be as fair as possible”.

Some parents and guardians have been upset by this change because for some of them it meant their children would not have a way to get to school anymore. When asked parents talked about how one of the most upsetting parts of this cut was the amount of time they gave them to figure out what they were going to do for the school year. Fern Remedi-Brown says it felt “like the rug was being pulled out from under [them]” because they were “scrambling, trying to figure out what to do”. Some had to consider moving so they could be closer to the school or even switching their children out of the schools they’ve always been in.

Some parents have had to change their routine with some having to walk their children to the bus stop and others having to leave an hour earlier than before and having to pay for morning care at school so that they can drop off their children and still make it in time for work. Parents worried about the lack of safety on the MBTA buses go on the bus with them to and from school.

When asked about how they feel Malden officials have dealt with this, Jen Hendrey, someone who has become very vocal about the problems caused by the cut, says that in the first couple of weeks the “staff in the superintendent’s office ignored [the] parents”. She says that they “refused to schedule a meeting with [them]” and didn’t take their concerns seriously.

That was until she managed to get in contact with the interim superintendent Charles Grandson, who was hired June 20th. Hendrey says Grandson was completely willing to meet with parents and describes him as someone who “has been really genuine with [the parents] and [seems to care] about the families’ experience”. Remedi-Brown echoes this saying that Grandson has “shown true leadership by [making himself] available to meet with parents” and that he “has been proactive in [trying] to find solutions.

When asked about the cost-share transportation plan Nicole Queen says that she might be willing to participate in it depending on the cost. Remedi-Brown adds on saying that she is open to the idea but she has a lot of questions about it. One of them being that since it is said that “ all of the families who are eligible for free or reduced lunches would have subsidized or free cost-share buses, where will the money come from to pay for the buses?”

Mayor Christenson says that to help resolve students in the meantime “ been able to obtain MBTA passes for students. He also says that he is “working with the Superintendent and the School Committee to try and find viable solutions that won’t impact the classroom”. When asked about the possibility of the school buses coming back in the 2017-2018 school year he says he is “unsure at this point but if the numbers come in that were used to build our current budget then [he thinks] it’s unlikely”.

If you are affected by this budget cut this  FaceBook page updates and has conversations about what is going on.


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