BOSTON, November 9, 2022 – On June 8, 2022, Boston City Councilors Julia Mejia, Kendra Lara and Erin Murphy filed an Order for a hearing regarding the Boston Public Schools Transportation System. The goal of the hearing is to address the unreliability of the Boston Public Schools transportation system. The Boston Public Schools transportation team has struggled with hiring and retaining bus drivers, which has led to buses being late or not arriving at all to pick up students to take them to school or to out-of-school athletic events. Late or absent buses result not only in learning loss for students who must continuously show up late, but it also has a financial burden on families who must pay out of pocket for alternative forms of transportation.
“It is unacceptable that our students and parents are being burdened with unreliable transportation,” said Councilor Mejia on Monday. She noted, “we are not setting our students up for success when we neglect to provide them with the most fundamental tools for them to perform well in school.” “On top of that,” continued Councilor Mejia, “the financial burden we are placing on parents struggling to ensure their children receive the education they deserve is intolerable.”
The FY23 recommended budget for Boston Public Schools transportation is $116,467,033, which comprises roughly 10% of all BPS spending. Despite enrollment in BPS having declined by 8,000 since 2015, expenditures for BPS transportation have been steadily on the rise, with there being a roughly $4 million increase in recommended spending between fiscal years 2022 and 2023. BPS also provides transportation for out-of-district special education students, and these costs comprise 23.7% of the FY23 BPS transportation budget.
“We owe it to our children to work collaboratively/efficiently to find a solution that addresses both the immediate needs of Boston Public School families to provide reliable transportation, as well as the systemic obstacles our schools are facing.” Councilor Kendra Lara said on Tuesday evening. “As a parent to an autistic first-grader in BPS who has had issues with transportation in the past, I am committed to this conversation on equitable education.”
“The Boston Public Schools’ Transportation System is in disarray. Families and students need more transparency and accountability,” Councilor Erin Murphy, a former Boston Public School teacher for twenty-two years, emphasized. Last year alone, Boston Public Schools bused 22,000 students daily. Yet, 2% of these students, 442 students on average, were not picked up, forcing them to arrive late or miss school. Councilor Murphy highlights how “most of these students that are not picked up are on individualized education programs or disabled. These vulnerable students benefit the most from our schools, but with our current transportation problems, we fail these students and their families.”
It is crucial that students in Boston Public Schools have access to safe, reliable, and consistent transportation to and from school. The Boston City Council’s Committee on Government Accountability, Transparency, and Accessibility will hold a hearing on Thursday, November 10, 2022 at 5:00 PM in the Iannella Chamber, 5th floor, Boston City Hall.
Members of the public are cordially invited to attend and testify in person or virtually. If you have not testified at a Council hearing before, please arrive five (5) minutes before the call of the hearing to sign up and become familiar with the hearing format, testimony locations and sound system. Please bring fifteen (15) copies of any written documentation you wish to present at the hearing.
The public may also watch this hearing via live stream at www.boston.gov/city-council-tv. Members of the public wishing to testify virtually via video conference should email Meghan Kavanagh at [email protected] for link and instructions. Written comments may be sent to the Committee at [email protected] or Meghan Kavanagh, and will be made a part of the record and available to all Councilors.