Inside Stories

On the Hook for Migrant Busing Costs

The latest Power Hour Podcast features an interesting and informative discussion about school transportation for the migrant families that began moving into the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center last week. (relevant part begins around the 7-minute mark)

The discussion centered around the school age children and how co-host Asa Stutz had received information that most, if not all of the kids, had chosen to continue their schooling in Billerica, which is where their families were previously housed.

Through our Facebook post linking to the specific Power Hour Podcast and information we have subsequently uncovered, the City of Lowell and Lowell Public Schools could be stuck with a portion of the costs to bus the students in question, along with the next wave expected to arrive this week.

“The families that came from Billerica have all chosen to keep their kids (16 kids) in Billerica Public Schools,” wrote Jen Myers, Community Outreach Strategist for Lowell Public Schools. “Billerica will set up the transportation – Lowell and Billerica will split the cost 50/50. They fall under the McKinney-Vento Act because they do not have permanent housing.”

Myers’ Facebook comment is consistent with the information provided as part of the Power Hour Podcast last Saturday. InsideLowell has subsequently learned that 23 families (84 people) in all came to the ICC last week from a hotel in Billerica.

When Myers was asked who gets the additional $104 per day-per student the Healy Administration promised to provide school districts to assist with these costs, she confirmed Billerica gets all the money as the District providing the education.

In other words, while Billerica receives the full amount of funding to educate the students, Lowell must pay half the transportation costs.

Enter City Councilor John Descoteaux, who is also the Transportation Director for LPS.

“The reimbursement rate that the state provides the district changes each year,” Descoteaux wrote in response to questions of whether state or federal funding will cover the transportation costs. “Lets be clear, the state nor the feds will pay the full amount for transportation….It becomes dicey when and if the migrants from Fairhaven want their children transported back to Fairhaven each day. We are mandated to transport, but we have the right to appeal thru the state that we feel that this is not on the best interest of the child….how long those appeals takes is an unknown.”

As Descoteaux referenced, InsideLowell has learned that the next migrant group coming to the ICC is expected to arrive this Thursday from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, which will create quite the challenge should those students chose to remain in their Fairhaven schools.

The commute from the ICC in Downtown Lowell to Fairhaven is over an hour and a half during off-peak traffic hours, which should make for expensive transportation should those students follow the same pattern the Billerica group did. If the state and federal governments don’t step up to the plate to fully fund these busing costs, which history shows they haven’t done regularly in the past, then Lowell taxpayers will ultimately have to pick up the tab.

3 responses to “On the Hook for Migrant Busing Costs”

  1. GMP says:

    The only shocking part of this article is that these 3 morons broke a news story!

  2. C R krieger says:

    I am confused by GMP’s Comment. This tale will continue to grow as we find ourselves without the surplus assets to house, feed and educate these new arrivals. I can only imagine what it must be like for taxpayers in Texas or Arizona. The only viable solution, aside from deportation, is for these migrants to get jobs (which requires a work permit, and a form of transportation, and an available job). Well, and a facility with the local language.

  3. GMP says:

    Jesus Cliff – it was a joke. The Power Hour is full of sophmoric humor and Russia/Ukraine speculation. The fact that they had a breaking news story about the students staying in Billerica schools was the most newsworthy story they have ever broken. Lighten up bro!

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