LEWISTON — Lewiston students attending Saint Dominic Academy will need to find their own transportation to school following a decision by Lewiston schools to discontinue providing bus service.

Transportation for St. Dom’s students ended last Tuesday, according to Superintendent Jake Langlais.

The district was providing two school buses to transport about 40 St. Dom’s students living in Lewiston. School administrators found that these two buses could instead be used to transport 275 Lewiston public school students, who are more vulnerable and have less resources than most St. Dom’s students, Langlais said.

Since school began on Sept. 1, numerous bus runs have been canceled because there are too few bus drivers. Lewiston schools have made efforts to provide alternate transportation for students who would otherwise not be able to make it to school, but some students have still missed school as a result of the canceled runs.

“It just got impossible to justify why we keep calling our own families, Lewiston Public Schools students and their families, to say that they don’t have a ride when others did,” Langlais said.

According to Langlais, residents voted by referendum in 1961 to provide transportation using public funds for elementary students attending local parochial schools, including St. Dom’s. The city is obligated to pay for transportation, but the school does not need to provide it, Langlais added.


While not required to, the city has also been providing transportation for middle and high school students at St. Dom’s.

“We appreciate the cooperation we have experienced between Lewiston schools and St. Dom’s over the years regarding busing our students,” St. Dom’s Superintendent Marianne Pelletier wrote in an email to the Sun Journal. “We trust when the staff shortage is resolved that bus service will resume for our St. Dom’s students. ”

St. Dom’s is a private Roman Catholic school under the direction of the Diocese of Portland, with campuses in Lewiston and Auburn. There are 249 students enrolled at the school from prekindergarten to 12th grade, according to its website.

Joe Philippon, a Lewiston police officer and 2002 St. Dom’s graduate, posted publicly to Facebook last week in support of terminating the city’s agreement with St. Dom’s.

“Lewiston schools doesn’t get to choose its students, and is obligated to educate all children regardless of challenges and backgrounds,” Philippon wrote. “Private school families have choice, and private schools should set their own course for transportation needs.”

Administrators are currently exploring other ways to improve transportation, including training school staff who may be interested in earning a commercial drivers license to drive buses and reaching out to local companies who may employ people with the proper credentials.


The driver shortage is not just impacting school day transportation, but also after school activities, including sports, clubs and enrichment programs.

“Right now the buses are either coming too late or are not able to come at all,” Langlais said.

More and more, Langlais said he’s been thinking about the district’s multi-year contract with Hudson Bus Lines, which provides school transportation for Lewiston schools, because they have not been able to fulfill their contractual obligations.

But if Lewiston were to provide its own transportation services with competitive wages and benefits, the cost would double, according to his rough calculations. Currently, one challenge for attracting and retaining bus drivers for Lewiston schools is the lack of benefits offered by Hudson.


Langlais told the School Committee that the revised cellphone policy is being implemented in steps.


“Really, the feedback hasn’t been too bad,” he said, adding that there haven’t been too many problematic situations tied to phones since the revised policy went into effect a few weeks ago.

The high school is focusing on reminding students about the new policy, he said. “Kids have seemingly been more mindful,” he added, noting the transition would take time. The middle school, which already had a ban on cellphone policy, is doing better.

So far, the most improvement has been seen in the elementary schools, he said. Requiring students to store their phones during the day has been a major improvement from the problems teachers had last year.

Chairman Bruce Damon shared that the School Committee is still aiming to create a subcommittee to discuss adding an auditorium to Lewiston High School.

Lewiston High School is one of the only schools in the area without a large gathering place capable of holding performances, he said. The auditorium at the middle school has been “up and down,” he added, noting problems like mold have made it less than reliable.

The new art wing cost roughly $13 million to build, Damon said, and the auditorium could cost an additional $25 to $30 million.


“It’s going to be a significant reach for us, for the community and everyone,” Damon said. “But I think if we’re going to continue to push these new pathways that we continue to talk about for students, the performing arts has to be a part of it. You really can’t embrace the performing arts if there’s no space.”

Residents would need to approve the funds to construct an auditorium by referendum vote.


The School Committee additionally approved a raise in pay for substitute teachers, educational technicians and food workers to be more competitive with rates in nearby districts.

Speaking in support of the raises, Ward 6 representative and educator Paul Beauparlant said “A good ed tech, a good support person, is worth their weight in gold.”

The Lewiston school district’s rates are as follows:


Substitute teacher: formerly $104 per day, now $125.

Long-term substitute teacher with a bachelor’s degree: formerly, $207 per day, now $210.

Long-term substitute with a master’s degree: formerly $220 per day, now $225.

Building substitute: formerly $156 per day, now $175.

Substitute educational technician: formerly $93 per day, now $112.

Food service substitutes: formerly $12.64 per hour, now $16.

Food service aides: formerly $13.40 per hour, now $16.

Lunch monitors: formerly $12.64 per hour, now $13.75.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.