Magliocchetti and Vargas Develop Solution to One School Busing Issue; Roof Help Coming Too

State Rep. Andy X. Vargas and Haverhill School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The nation’s schools have been experiencing bus shortages this year, but Haverhill has found a solution at least to taking students to after-school sporting events, and an environmentally friendly one at that.

Haverhill School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti and state Rep. Andy X. Vargas worked together to fashion a solution. Magliocchetti outlined the problem for WHAV listeners.

“One of the problems is we don’t have a bus that is big enough to transport all of the kids so they have to make multiple trips where, if we had a larger bus, we could basically do a loop to the kids to their sporting events,” he said.

During a recent school Transportation subcommittee meeting, Magliocchetti suggested buying a full-sized bus to be owned by the schools. He also considered whether an electric bus might be a better choice than a traditional diesel-fueled vehicle. He explained the nation is moving in the direction of electric vehicles, but found they carry a price tag of about $300,000—or $175,000 above traditional buses.

Vargas was able to bridge the price gap, proposing an amendment to take $200,000 from the state’s plan for using federal American Rescue Plan Act money. He acknowledged the underlying problem.

“We all know of the transportation problems that have been caused by COVID—the shortages of labor and the challenges that the schools can sometimes have in negotiating with the bus companies,” he told WHAV.

Vargas secured his State House colleagues’ support Friday for the additional money, noting there is agreement electric buses carry a higher upfront cost, but are more cost-effective over the long run. The representative was also able to win approval of $250,000 for other capital needs.

“In addition to that, we also secured $250,000 in capital improvements for Haverhill Public Schools. We know there are some roofs and some ceilings that still need to get repaired,” he explained.

The extra money, Magliocchetti notes, comes with “no strings attached.”

As State House negotiations proceed, Vargas said, Haverhill could still receive additional federal relief money.

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