BOSC Committee recommends removing bus fares for high school students

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Kelly O’Brien-Hebert. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Manchester Board of School Committee’s (BOSC) Finance and Facilities Committee unanimously recommended removing the $8.50 per week fee that high school students must pay to ride on Manchester School District (MSD) buses.

This proposal stemmed out of a proposal in the BOSC’s Policy Committee meeting in June during a discussion on other changes to the district’s bussing policy.

According to MSD Transportation Coordinator Kelly O’Brien-Hebert, if the change is implemented, it would remove just over $61,000 in revenues to the district and would increase ridership to the point where it would cost approximately $100,000 to $200,000 for additional buses.

Under New Hampshire State Law, school districts are only required to provide bus transportation for students living more than two miles away from their school up to eighth grade.

Unlike bus routes for lower grades, there are a certain number of buses per high school with no assigned route according to O’Brien-Hebert, with students able to get off at any stop. They are also able to ride city buses at rate different than the $8.50 per week fare, but those routes often require a transfer downtown.

According to O’Brien-Hebert, approximately 100 to 150 students take the bus at Central and West and 250 to 300 take the bus at Memorial.

O’Brien-Hebert said that the $8.50 per week has been in place for as long as she can remember. She added that she could only find two other school districts that engaged in a similar practice: Concord and Nashua.

In Concord, students are charged $25 per year and a waiver can be obtained if a student can show they are receiving free and reduced lunches.

In Nashua, the cost is $62.50 per year which can be split into half-year payments, or $1.75 per week individual tickets.

O’Brien-Hebert said that it would be nearly impossible to mimic Concord’s waiver policy while also maintaining anonymity for free and reduced lunch students, but BOSC Member Leslie Want (Ward 4) believed a work-around is possible and necessary.

“It is not right to be charging our high school students to get to school,” she said.

Want was the driving force behind bringing the proposal forward on the Policy Committee, with additional support on Wednesday’s meeting from Jeremy Dobson (Ward 5) and Karen Soule (Ward 3).

 

About this Author

andrewsylvia

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.