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Thursday, March 31, 2011

The 2009 Late Bus Cut and Its Effect on FHS Students

By : Hillaree Hayes

For many years, Framingham High School had a number of late buses available to students for transportation home after getting extra help with teachers, or participating in extracurricular activities or sports. In 2009, however, the school was forced to eliminate them.
According to the school principal, Mr. Michael Welch, “There are lots of misconceptions out there” about why they had to be cut. In reality, the main reason is because of budget restraints that forced the transportation department to find new ways to conserve.
            In the fiscal year of 2009-2010, more than fifteen percent of the budget for school transportation was cut – close to $500,000. “An obvious way to save money was to not drive students home twice” says Welch.
            Originally, late buses had been given to the school, not asked for. They were paid for out of the budget for all grades, kindergarten to twelve. Welch says that in the beginning the school had about three buses, then they were offered another, then another. “I wasn’t asking for it,” said Welch, “it just happened.”
However, with an easy way home after school, many students were staying in the building, not for extra help, but to hang out with friends. Only a small number were staying for academic reasons. It was a “management headache” trying to keep track of so many students and to keep them out of trouble, and Welch believes the setup was a “recipe for disaster.”
            Because of the elementary school runs, late buses would often arrive at the high school more than an hour after classes had ended. The teachers who had agreed to stay in the building could never be sure when they were going to pull in. There were often five buses worth of teens in the building. Monitoring all of them was nearly impossible. According to Welch, “teenagers need adult supervision.” Students without it would frequently vandalize school property or get into fights.
            On the other hand, late buses were important to the school and possibly to the success of the students. Many after school programs, including International Club and the three affinity clubs (Adelante, Umoja, and DeSafio), were affected by the loss of transportation. The affinity clubs saw an especially strong impact. Being programs that require student dues, now that their attendance has significantly dropped, Adelante, Umoja, and DeSafio have much lower budgets than they had before, lowering the quality of their activities.
            It is hard to tell whether or not students’ grades have been impacted by the lack of transportation after school, however, Welch says, “teachers liked having late buses… they were very beneficial and very convenient.” In addition, since the late buses have been cut, fewer students are making the grades to participate in school sports.
            Though some impact has been made on the school now that the late buses have been removed, many students say that they have been able to find other transportation home, such as the Framingham Lift bus. Students are also able to catch up on missed work and tests during lunches, homeroom, and study periods. So, the necessary removal of the late buses, though inconvenient, is definitely not life-changing to the students at Framingham High School, and as the years continue it seems that they will be getting on just fine.