School Board: Cut Yellow Buses for Many Private School Kids
19 Dec, 2013
By Polly Kreisman
Many people are upset with this week’s proposal by the Mamaroneck Board of Ed to cut private buses in 2014-2015 for many students of taxpayers in the area that send their children to private school while paying taxes to support public education.
This would affect students in grades 6-12 at eight private and parochial schools. These students will be offered public transportation vouchers instead of a school bus. The affected schools are Archbishop Stepinac, French-American (Mamaroneck), Holy Child, Iona Prep, Resurrection Grammar, Rye Country Day, Thornton Donovan, Ursuline and Fordham Prep.
The Board considered five scenarios and says the one it proposed will save the District $143,775.40 per school year.
The vote was 4 members supporting Scenario 4 (Nancy Pierson, Ann LoBue, Roger Martin, Melany Gray); 2 members supporting Scenario 5 (Stan Futterman, Jim Needham); 1 member voting against all scenarios as proposed (Robin Nichinsky).
Below is an excerpt of a letter by Svetlana Wasserman, circulated among those opposed to this decision.
Unfortunately parents of Mamaroneck students attending other private and parochial schools should feel little relief. Board members stated … that they view this transportation cut as a “modest first step that would allow us to modify or expand next year.” They see this as round 1–testing the waters to see what they can get away with, and once they have established that they CAN put kids on public transportation, the rest is just a slippery slope. Board members have stated that they believe the law allows public transportation as long as the trip is no more than 2 hours, involves no more than two transfers (three public vehicles) and 2 miles (or 3 for grades 9-12) of walking, all each way. Moreover, they stated at the meeting that other districts are watching to see what will happen in Mamaroneck, and they expect others will follow suit. As you know, parents throughout the community, including those of us in the core working group, have challenged this interpretation of the law, challenged the purported cost savings, and challenged the viability of the proposed routes. After considering all of this input, the Board still voted to make these cuts.
We think it is critical for parents at the affected schools to organize and challenge the Board’s decision. We hope that parents who are not affected by this policy change for 2014-2015 will also continue to do everything they can to stop this policy from taking effect. If it does, it jeopardizes safe yellow school bus transportation for private and parochial school children living in Westchester and beyond.
The revised transportation policy will be presented to the Board for adoption at a future meeting.
What do you think?