Thursday, September 23, 2010

Update From DESE REgarding Transportation

We have confirmed with Mr. Jay Sullivan from the DESE that MVRCS has been informed that they must use mileage (and not linear distance) to determine if a student qualifies for the bus. Students who live 2 miles from the school are eligible for bus service. As Mr. Sullivan stated, the distance is determined using the most common route between the two locations and he suggested using a map or driving direction service such as to determine actual mileage. Linear mileage is NOT valid as buses do not fly so that can not be used. Should you still encounter issues with Mr. Veilleux or MVRCS, you may contact Jay Sullivan directly at 781-338-6594. The charge of 200.00 per student has not been changed.

In regards to the charging of the bus, it is difficult to take issue with this as many districts either do not offer transportation or also charge. While looking into the situation we did come across an interesting tidbit of information that we thought we would share. Just to be clear, we have not had the opportunity to clarify or confirm this but are in the process of doing so. In the ongoing discussions regarding the new busing fee that MVRCS has implemented many parents have mentioned that we have been fortunate thus far as the school has not previously charged for busing. While reviewing the financial records for the 2008 school year (specifically the report titled Year Ended June 30, 2008), it appears that while the school incurred an expense of $405,000.00 for transportation (Schedule of Functional Expenses spreadsheet), they were reimbursed $504,033.00 in 'Regional Transportation Aid' (as stated in 'Statement of Revenues, Expenses, and Changes in Net Assetts (Income Statement)). That would mean that the school MADE $9,033.00 in transportation expenses. We are unsure as to how this can happen and if it should have happened but will be looking into it further, especially as they are now charging for transportation. It is interesting that within the 'Schedule of Functional Expenses, although there are columns designated for various reimbursements, none are listed even though the school did receive a reimbursement of $504,033.00.
If anyone has insight or accounting knowledge, we welcome your insight and comments. Thank you

Thank you to the DESE, and specifically Jay Sullivan, for clarifying this. Please contact Mr. Veilleux should you now qualify for transportation and be sure to pass on along the message.

from Sullivan, John J
to UnOfficial MVRCS ,
School Business Services
cc Charter Schools ,
Media ,
Legal ,
Rick Veilleux
date Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 11:13 AM
subject RE: Mystic Valley Regional Charter School

Just to be clear, I was told that Mystic Valley’s policy was that pupils would be eligible for transportation if they resided 1.75 linear miles from their school of attendance.

There are a number of different issues at play here. Regional Charters are eligible to receive reimbursements as you noted. Reimbursement is based upon the cost of transporting pupils who reside greater than 1.5 miles from their school of attendance. In addition, as stated in both M.G.L. Ch. 71 § 16C and M.G.L. Ch. 71 § 89 (ff), mileage is determined using the most commonly travelled route, not linear miles. The confusion surrounding the 2 mile distance and the reimbursement criteria I believe is from the difference in the state mandate articulated in M.G.L. Ch. 71 § 68, which states that a district is required to provide transportation to pupils who reside greater than 2 miles from their school of attendance.

I hope this clears up any confusion.

Jay Sullivan

Administrator, School Business Services

Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

75 Pleasant St.

Malden, MA 02148-4906

Phone: 781-338-6594

Fax: 781-338-6530

This was in response to the following email:

Mr. Sullivan,
We are seeking to clarify the transportation policy that governs MVRCS. The school has been informing parents that the student must live 2.00 linear miles from the school yet according to another parent who spoke to you the other day, the distance is 2.00 by the most common route and since people and cars do not fly, they are not permitted to determine eligibility on the linear mileage but rather on the actual driven mileage. It was our understanding that you recommended parents check the mileage under It was also the understanding of this parent that according to the DESE, MVRCS is NOT required to make an announcement or posting regarding the mistaken information they had previously provided to parents. Could you please verify this.

While looking into this matter, we came across a 'Technical Advisory' from July 2007 that reads as follows:
• Regional Transportation Reimbursement
In order to be eligible for reimbursement through the state regional transportation reimbursement program, a charter school must:
1. Be designated a regional charter school by the Board of Education; and
2. Have a charter that provides for the transportation of all students who reside in the charter school's designated region but outside the district in which the charter school is located.
If the charter school meets both of these conditions, the charter school is entitled to claim reimbursement for those students who reside outside the municipality in which the charter is located and reside 1½ miles or more from the charter school (see M.G.L. Ch. 71 § 89(ff) and M.G.L. Ch. 71 § 16C). This program is funded by the state as a specific line item in the state budget and as such, is subject to appropriation. It has been funded at varying levels, from 47% to 100% of the costs eligible for reimbursement, from FY96 through FY07.

According to this, the mileage would be 1.5 miles for Regional Charter Schools, which based on our understanding Mystic Valley is classified as such. We are asking that you provide further clarification as to whether the mileage is actually 1.5 or 2.0 as we understand things may have changed since 2007.

We thank you for your speedy response to this request for information. Thank you, The Parents of the UnOfficialMVRCS Blog


  1. In looking over this, does it appear as though the school will lose it's right to transportation funding reimbursement for .25 of a mile? I can only imagine what the justification is on that one.

    Also, as far we were aware, it has been 2 miles and NOT 1.75 but we may have misunderstood or missed an update. Has anyone heard of the school changing it to 1.75?

  2. One thing that I noticed is that this year, they changed from a 1.5 to a 1.75 mile radius. The fact that it is 2 miles actually hurts more families. So the people that complained about this actually bit themselves on the behind, because MVRCS was offering more than they needed to.

  3. I think you are misunderstanding the issue. The distance MVRCS now requires a family to be FROM the school is 2.00 linear miles. Many family's who qualified in previous years are now not eligible as the school increased the distance to 2.00 (if I am correct in my information).
    The bigger issue is that by increasing the distance to 2 miles, it appears as though they no longer qualify for the transportation reimbursement from the state. It was my impression that the cost per child that the school was charging was to supplement the reimbursement, not completely replace it.
    Please correct me if I am wrong. Thank you.

  4. The issue is in the words 2 driven miles. The school uses linear mileage which they take in a straight line from the school to the house. I believe from the meeting last week they are going to correct this but leave it up to the parents to figure out if they qualify.

  5. The congestion around the lower school is bad enough and now with more parents having to drive their children to and from school it can only get worse!

  6. Transportation is the one area that I will agree with the statement "School of Choice" I hate those words with a passion, but if you can not get your child to the school it should not be the responsibility of the school to get the child there.

  7. John Sullivan has provided additional clarification regarding the reimbursement issue. They will not lose the reimbursement funds because they are not providing transportation to anyone LESS than 1.5 miles from the school.
    The next question will be whether they calculate that on a per child basis (as in per student expenditure), if they are reimbursed for the students that are between 1.50 and 1.75 miles from the school. May seem petty but I believe that is includes a fairly large number of students.

    It seems that as the school is the one who initially provided the incorrect information to the parents, they should be responsible for informing those parents that will benefit from the change.
    Also, can anyone clarify if MVRCS is now saying 1.75 miles or are they still saying 2 miles? Why is the DESE under the impression that it is 1.75 miles? Was that part of the change as well?

  8. TJ -
    In many ways you are correct, it is the parents job to get their children to school. Parents in most of the sending district schools face similiar issues. Even without school choice, some districts/schools still face this issue. The problem for the parents of MVRCS is the lack of parking issue and general traffic that pick up and drop off brings to the area. I would HATE to live anywhere near that school or have to get anywhere during pickup time.
    Let me ask you to clarify your opinion. Are you against the state reimbursing the school for the cost of any transportation (i.e. that money should be spent on educating children) or just that it has become such an issue at MVRCS? Just curious.

  9. My opinion is simply that it is for the family to be able to provide transportation, the same as it is not my employers responisibility to get me to work each day.

  10. Yes, in many ways you are correct but could you even begin to imagine what that area (and other areas as well) would be like? But also imagine the kids who may not get to school as a result of their parents neglect or ability. Sometimes it becomes a 'pay now or pay later' issue; pay for transportation now and to try to ensure all kids get an education or everyone worry about themselves and when the kids we didn't worry about are adults, they COULD end up costing our government (and ultimately us) more in aid if they are illiterate and/unable to work.
    But, all of that aside, your point is a valid one.

  11. MVRCS is still going by LINEAR miles. That is the whole issue in a nut shell. They changed their policy from 1.5 LINEAR miles, to 1.75 Linear miles. They were made aware of their mistake, but the school has done NOTHING to amend their error.
    They have been corrected by parents and DESE to change their policy to 2 DRIVEN MILES. The DESE was never under the impression it was miles. Mr. Sullivan understood perfectly the school was using the wrong calcuations. If you look on MV website Busing Application, they have not made any changes.

    TJ - I can get my child to school - there is a school bus that my taxes pay for that picks him up. Who the hell is the school to take that away from him.

  12. Yes, Mr. Sullivan knows the situation and his position is that as long as those parents who contact the school that are now eligible for the bus (by removing the linear requirement), the school has done nothing wrong. It is unfortunate that this continues to be the DESE's attitude, that they are there to watch out for the school and not the students or parents of the school. By rights the school should, on their own or at least be required to, show parents the common decency of informing them of their mistake. It would only require a notice or email be sent out the parents. When the school couldn't provide the correct payroll information, Mr. Veilleux blamed it on the end of year financial report. What will be the excuse this time?

  13. @UnOfficial - **** The school has changed the busing issue, it is now 1.75 DRIVEN miles to qualify. Apparently they will NOT be contacting parents so parents should contact Rick Veilleux to make arrangements. ***

    Great News!! Since the school will not notify parents, please confirm how this was relayed to you? Did the Board change the policy or did Rick contact you?

  14. NO one was bitten anywhere as far as I know, It was supposed to be changed to 2 miles from the school............that is driven miles NOT linear mileage. Which the MVRCS has been using for some time now.Mr Villeux was very kindly driving to and from the school to any family that wants to check they do live 2 miles from the school.Good luck to all those families , that is the 92 families that lost the transport. Also good luck finding parking anywhere near the school and please be extra careful walking to and from the school. Not sure any though was given to the possibility of another 50 cars or so in and around the school at arrival and dismmisal.
    All I can comment is if possible go to any or all of the Board meetings, read the web and the blogs, what can it hurt, everyone has a right to there opinion. Not everyone can agree. If you got a e.mail reguarding this unofficial "BLOG" and find it upseting Don't read it. I know several people were upset that their e.mail had been found out! Don't go on facebook or tweeter then as there out there.

  15. Do parents that live within the 1.75 driven mile have to pay to have their child or children transported safely to school?

  16. To the person asking how this information was obtained, through emailing with Jay Sullivan at the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education. They make the rules regarding bus issues and handle the reimbursement for the bus expenses. Per Mr. Sullivan, the best way to determine the distance between your place of residence and the school is by looking up directions on a website such as mapquest. The school is not permitted to use linear miles because, as Mr. Sullivan stated, buses don't fly. The mileage must be determined by using the most common route between the 2 places. If the school does not honor this, please contact Mr. Sullivan at 781-338-6594.
    The charging for bus service remains the same, the cost is still 200.00 per child.

  17. Just one more note regarding the linear v mileage issue; per Mr. Sullivan, the school has been informed of their error and will accommodate those parents who contact Mr. Veilleux. It is disappointing that although the school is now aware of their mistake and in light of the fact that they made an initial (and incorrect) statement, they are not required to make any type of announcement. Even more disappointing is that they refuse to do so.
    This is an example of MVRCS unwillingness to do the right thing when given the chance.

  18. @ Unofficial. You have it incorrect. And this is where the confusion is. The written law specifically states 2 miles, as does Mr. Sullivan's response. Let's scrap using the word linear. If you live 2+ miles from 770 Salem St., please call Rick.

  19. Esq.,
    Is this correct - students are now eligible for transportation if they live 2 miles from the school and the cost is 200.00 per child.
    The misunderstanding was that the school is basically saying 1.75 linear miles is = to 2.00 driven miles....? Thank you for clarifying this information and allowing us to provide the correct information.


  21. To the post above - the board did address that issue @ the mtg. Kinnon said 770 Salem St. is the "hub". That is where the distance is calculated to & from. I'm not in full agreement with this because, like you said, the kids have to take another bus to get to their respective school. Are parents of HS kids being charged an extra $100 (on top of the $200) for the shuttle service? or is it just the $100? This is a unique situation. I would get the advice from either Jay Sullivan or Mary Street, (DESE). Without them backing you up, the board will turn a deaf ear to you.

  22. Yes, to answer your question the parents of the HS kids have to pay $200, plus an addtional $100 for the shuttle bus to the HS, unless you drop your child off at Salem Street to get the shuttle bus then it is only $100. Ty for your information as who to call, i have called and left a message hopefully i will get some answers to advise me and back me up on this issue.

  23. Hey, here's an answer for the complainers who think MV sucks so bad. Put your kids back in your city public school and then you don't have to worry about how terrible you are being treated. You deadbeats need to stop looking for free handouts (must have voted for obama) and start realizing that it is your responsibility to take care of your kids and other issues in life. Everybody wants a god damn free ride but nobody wants to work hard for it. And for those of you who immigrated here, if you don't like it, go back to where you came from cause we are certain you have it way better here so stop complaining. You want to "take back america and its schools", then here is the place to start so stop expecting everything for nothing. IMHO

  24. While the school is only required to provide transportation to students 2 or miles from the school, it has been providing it for students who live 1.75 miles and greater. While I agree that some students may have gained bus service based on the change of distance calculation from linear to driven miles, I am sure a higher number lost eligibility due to the radius change of 1.75 to 2 miles (if this has, in fact, happened). As far as reimbursement to the school goes, that is based on the number of students who are bused 1.5 miles or greater from the school. So, there are two things at play here: 1. A student living 2 miles or greater from the school is entitled to bus service, and 2. While MVRCS (or any school) is going to be reimbursed for transportation for all students whom they transport 1.5 miles or greater, it is only REQUIRED to transport students who live 2 miles or greater. So, like the earlier poster said, this blog probably hurt more students/families than it helped if the school does change its policy to only bus students living 2 + miles from the school.

    Backing this up, from the MA DESE website:

    All children in grades kindergarten through six who reside more than two miles from the school they are entitled to attend and the nearest school bus stop is more than one mile from their residence and all children residing in regional school districts in grades kindergarten through twelve.

    Reimbursement: Record expenditures for pupils transported once daily at least 1 1/2 miles (in one direction) on municipally or regionally owned school buses and contracted services.).
    Non-Reimbursable: Record expenditures for transporting pupils less than 1 1/2 miles to and from school for regular or occupational day programs

  25. Thank you for clarifying the transportation issue. Just to further clarify, the school set the transportation distance of 1.75 linear miles (per Jay Sullivan) but since buses don't fly, it seems they have 'compromised' with 2 driven miles requirement. This was not as a result of our doing, it was already in place, we just attempted to clarify and then get the message out as MVRCS was not doing so.
    Thank you again for the further clarification and to the parents questioning the HS situation, we will attempt to clarify that tomorrow.
    Thank you