Students from Chelsea who attend Cony High School still will have bus transportation to and from the Augusta school again this year, but their parents or guardians will have to pay for the service.

Augusta’s School Department had provided a bus to central locations in Chelsea until 2013, when it didn’t renew a busing contract between the town of Chelsea and the department, surprising some parents who expected to have busing available.

Students from Regional School Unit 12, which includes Chelsea, can attend any high school, but the school district provides transportation only to Wiscasset High School, the district’s high school until the town withdrew from the district in 2014.

The other high schools most Chelsea students attend — Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale, Erskine Academy in South China and Gardiner Area High School — all send buses to Chelsea Elementary School in the morning and Chelsea Market in the afternoon to pick up and drop off students, as Cony used to do. They aren’t required to provide transportation, however. Erskine charges families $10 a week, and the other two high schools provide the buses for free.

James Anastasio, Augusta’s superintendent, said at the time that his department stopped paying busing costs for students outside the district after the contract with Chelsea expired because the cost isn’t factored into the price the state allows the school to charge for tuition.

When the Augusta department stopped providing the buses, Chelsea stepped in and funded it for 30 days. After that ended, Augusta agreed to let students from Chelsea get on a Cony bus at a stop it made near the Augusta-Chelsea line. Last school year, Somerville-based RSU 12 funded a bus route for Cony students in Chelsea.

The RSU 12’s school board didn’t want to keep funding the busing because it doesn’t provide busing to and from high schools other than the one in Wiscasset, RSU 12 Superintendent Howard Tuttle said.

He said the district, which also includes Alna, Palermo, Somerville, Whitefield, Windsor and Westport Island, will send letters to parents in Chelsea this week, asking them to contact the district office if they want to use the bus service to and from Cony.

Tuttle estimated that it will cost families around $100 to $150 for the year, depending on the number of riders. Forty-five Chelsea students are enrolled at Cony, eight to 10 of whom consistently rode the Chelsea-Cony bus last year, he said. Last year the bus route also went through Windsor and Whitefield, but there weren’t any riders from those towns, he said.

Tuttle said he thinks it will work out for Chelsea, which funds the buses taking the students to and from the high school bus stops and their homes.

“We’re going to give it a try,” he said, “and hopefully people will pay the fee, and we’ll continue to be able to provide this service.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @pdkoenig

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