Duties of towns to maintain schools; transportation of children; school building committee representation
Section 68. Every town shall provide and maintain a sufficient number of schoolhouses, properly furnished and conveniently situated for the accommodation of all children therein entitled to attend the public schools. If the distance between a child’s residence and the school he is entitled to attend exceeds two miles and the nearest school bus stop is more than one mile from such residence, and the school committee declines to furnish transportation, the department, upon appeal of the parent or guardian of the child, may require the town to furnish transportation for children in grades kindergarten through six for a part or for all of the distance between said child’s residence and the school. If said distance exceeds three miles, and the distance between the child’s residence and a school in an adjoining town giving substantially equivalent instruction is less than three miles, and the school committee declines to pay for tuition in such nearer school, and for transportation in case the distance thereto exceeds two miles, the department, upon like appeal, may require the town of residence to pay for tuition in such nearer school for children in grades kindergarten through six, and if necessary provide for transportation for a part or for the whole of said distance to, such nearer school for children in said grades. Nothing contained in the preceding two sentences shall be construed to limit the obligation of regional school districts to provide transportation for all school children in grades kindergarten through twelve, pursuant to the provisions in section sixteen C of this chapter. No school committee shall be compelled to furnish transportation on a private way. In the case of transportation provided to students that is not required by this section or by any other general or special law, a school committee may assess fees to the transported student up to an amount sufficient to cover the costs incurred by the district; provided, however, that no student eligible for free or reduced lunch, under the federal school lunch program, shall be required to pay the fee; and provided further, that a school committee may choose to exempt families at other income levels as it may determine. The school committee, unless the town otherwise directs, shall have general charge and superintendence of the schoolhouses, shall keep them in good order, and shall, at the expense of the town, procure a suitable place for the schools, if there is no schoolhouse, and provide fuel and all other things necessary for the comfort of the pupils. Each school shall comply with the requirements regarding pesticide applications as set forth in sections 6C to 6I, inclusive, of chapter 132B. Whenever a town shall undertake to provide a schoolhouse, the town shall appoint at least one member of the school committee, or its designee, to serve on the agency, board or committee to which the planning and construction or other acquisition of such schoolhouse is delegated.