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Regional school bus funds are restored



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January 03, 2010
Two months after $18 million was cut from the state's $40 million region school transportation budget, Gov. Deval Patrick recanted on Monday, Dec. 28, and restored the funds — to the surprise of area school officials.

"The action of the governor just yesterday is like a life raft in otherwise turbulent waters," said Superintendent Sean Gilrein of the Dudley-Charlton School District on Tuesday, following the Monday, Dec. 28 announcement that the money, which is doled out proportionally as reimbursement to the regional districts, was restored.

Had the $18 million actually been removed from the available funds, Gilrein's district would have had to absorb more than $600,000 during the current year, and assess the following year's shortfall to the two towns in fiscal 2011 just to maintain its current transportation plan.

In preparation of having to deal with the shortfall in 2011, Gilrein said three bus routes were cut, enrollment permitting, saving the district nearly $100,000 and that most special needs transportation was contracted out to a different provider than in years past, saving an additional $50,000.

"Charlton and Dudley would have been required by law to fund the shortfall in student transportation, and based on the initial numbers, it could have been between $750,000-$850,000 shared between the two towns," Gilrein said.

That would have held true for the 10 towns that collectively pay for Bay Path Regional Technical Vocational High School, which was looking at a $215,000 shortfall if the cut remained permanent.

For more on this story, please see Monday's Southbridge Evening News.

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