BOSTON — Boston Public Schools’ (BPS) interim superintendent has submitted a balanced budget recommendation for the 2015 fiscal year, and one of the proposals to reduce transportation costs includes expanding the district’s mass transit bus pass program to more seventh- and eighth-grade students.
Officials said BPS has faced a budget challenge of more than $100 million for the next fiscal year due to declining state and federal resources for the school system, increased costs, and the need to make new investments in school quality initiatives, such as expansions of K-8 and dual language programs, extended school days and early education.
“Our most important task as educators is to provide each and every student with an education that will give them the opportunity to success in college and career, and that is what we have focused on in constructing next year’s budget,” Interim Superintendent John McDonough said. “Resolving this challenge is about much more than balancing the budget. It is about rethinking our entire approach to service and support for schools so we can align ourselves in a way that is smarter, sharper, more effective and much more coherent. This is an opportunity to make the Boston Public Schools stronger.”
To help in balancing the budget, BPS is proposing strategic realignments and estimated cost savings in several areas, including transportation.
In an effort to save $11 million, the school system has proposed several transportation-related changes, including expanding the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) pass program to more seventh- and eighth-grade students. Officials said 1,862 students in nine BPS schools and five charter schools served by BPS transportation currently receive the MBTA passes.
The proposal would expand this program to an additional 4,586 students in the next school year. Yellow bus door-to-door service would continue for all students who receive this as part of a special-education plan. In addition, BPS would allow some sixth-grade students to access MBTA passes instead of yellow bus service as a voluntary sixth-grade MBTA pilot program that schools can choose to participate in next year. The district estimates that these measures would save approximately $8 million.
BPS also proposes to reduce “shuttle” bus service to high schools that are less than one mile from an MBTA subway hub, and it will ask schools to directly budget and pay for “a-la-carte optional services,” such as late buses, early release transportation that is not weekly and services on non-BPS calendar days. The district estimates that these measures would save approximately $2 million combined.
The district would also continue the process of aligning bell times and combine buses services for some co-located schools. These efforts would save approximately $1 million, according to the district.
For more information about other components of McDonough’s recommendations, click here.