TYNGSBORO — Beginning next school year, the Academy of Notre Dame will offer two new bus routes to provide students with transportation to and from school.
One of the routes will serve families in Nashua and Lowell, while the other will serve families in Lawrence, Methuen, Dracut and other parts of Lowell. The private Catholic school, which will also begin enrolling male students in its upper school for the first time next year, draws students from more than 20 communities.
Until now, bus transportation has been available only to students who live in town and are able to ride Tyngsboro Public Schools buses, according to Director of Admissions Elisa Lellios. The school made the decision to introduce the new service after hearing about families’ transportation needs during a recent strategic planning process.
“I think we’re just trying as a school to respond to the needs of our families and our prospective families who are looking for safe, reliable and affordable transportation options for their kids,” Lellios said. “And really offering an opportunity for them to consider NDA when they might not have previously considered a school outside of their hometown.”
The second bus route, which will go through Lawrence and Methuen, was designed to help support a potential influx of students transferring from Presentation of Mary Academy in Methuen, which is shutting down at the end of this school year, Ellios said.
“For me, that’s a great tool to also increase enrollment and to attract other students that want to come to our school from various areas,” Head of School Vittoria Pacifico said. “I know that when we first announced it, we obviously had people that signed on immediately.”
Families who participate will be charged $1,000 per year for round-trip service, or $750 per year for one-way service. Pacifico said that these fees won’t cover the full cost of providing the transportation, but that the school will absorb the remainder. The academy is also looking into the possibility of partially supporting the service through grants and donations, she said.
Transportation needs will also be considered when awarding scholarships and financial aid, according to Ellios.
“It’s very important that we listen to families, what are their needs,” Pacifico said. “It’s listening, it’s hearing them, and supporting them.”