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School Committee Supports K-6 Bus Fee Bill

School districts could charge these students the same transportation fee paid by families living further away.

School districts should be allowed to charge a bus fee to elementary students residing within two miles of their school, the Westborough School Committee says.

The board recently voted 4-0 to support legislation to this effect.

These students would pay the same transportation fee assessed to the students living further away. Westborough does not charge a school transportation fee.

State law does not require school districts to bus either these students, or students in grades seven to 12, Chairman Ilyse Levine-Kanji said.

In recent years, including 2012, the board has endorsed legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by state Rep. Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston) removing the two-mile fee language.

The issue arose again at a breakfast Dykema held before Thanksgiving for school board members from Hopkinton, Holliston, Northborough and Southborough, to “try to get a sense of what our legislative priorities” would be, she said.

Dykema “noted it’s inequitable to charge fees or to have transportation based upon your distance from your school when it doesn’t take into account other factors, such as whether there’s sidewalks to the school,” Levine-Kanji said.

School Superintendent Marianne O’Connor said the two-mile language dates back to “when schools were centrally located,” with sidewalks and neighborhoods nearby.

Now, “it’s not like that, especially a community like Westborough,” O’Connor said.

The Mill Pond School, for example, is “a beautiful site and it’s a beautiful location. How do you get there? How would one walk to Mill Pond?” she asked.

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