PEPPERELL -- Parents who had feared that their students would be stranded after the company that provided buses for Pepperell students filed for bankruptcy last month, can rest easy over winter break.

The North Middlesex Regional School District has secured a new bus provider to begin operations on Saturday, according to a letter Superintendent Joan Landers sent to parents today. There will be no interruptions in service.

Dee Bus Service, Inc., of Shirley, was awarded the remainder of the Atlantic Express contract to transport Pepperell students. Atlantic Express will cease all operations in North Middlesex due to a bankruptcy filing.

In addition to transporting the more than 1,400 students living in Pepperell to and from district schools in Pepperell and Townsend, the new company will also provide athletic, extra-curricular and late bus service.

The changeover beginning Saturday will ensure that students traveling to athletic competitions over winter break will not be affected, Landers said.

Landers said that Dee Bus Service has offered jobs to all of the district's current bus drivers, who were informed of the offers in a meeting this morning.

The new contract extends through June 30, when Atlantic Express's contract had been expected to end.

A query to the business office asking the financial impact of the new emergency contract was not returned by press time.

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