Mamaroneck Schools Again Cut Bus Service for Private School Kids

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About 400 Mamaroneck students got a surprise this week, just as the new school year approaches. In an effort to save money, The district announced it will cut bus service for private school students on days public schools are not in session.

The move will save the district an estimated $77,000.

The District says the average number of days public transportation will not be provided for private school students during the school year is about six.

New York State law requires students who are enrolled in kindergarten through eighth grade to be provided transportation if the school is two to 15 miles away. For high school students, the law is three to 15 miles. The district is not required by law to provide private school students transportation on days public school is not in session.

This is the second time Mamaroneck has reduced bus services. In 2014, the district cut buses for private high school students and offered them bus and train passes instead, which saved the district around $100,000.

11 thoughts on “Mamaroneck Schools Again Cut Bus Service for Private School Kids

  1. The district is required by law to provide busing to private schools. Period. In 2012, a Mamaroneck school board member (and now former President) testified at a NYS budget hearing to try to get the state requirement reduced, at least mileage-wise. And failed. Since then, the district has been looking for ways to chip away at the transportation requirement. True (and oddly), the law does not require Mamaroneck to provide busing on days public school is closed, but it’s another reduction of service and ignores that the district already doesn’t pay for transportation on days private schools are closed. The district also underestimated the days without busing – it’s nearly three weeks not two. Moreover, this latest effort even affects kids with IEPs that go to special education schools because the district still “labels” those students “privately placed.” Many of these students would be expensive to educate in district schools and would take money, time and attention away from those attending in-district schools.

    annoyed anon

    • You are just misinformed…

      #1 S 35 of the NYS Board of Education indicates that “Transportation” must be provided by the school system. It has been upheld several times that this may include public transportation. S 35:125 states “A school district is not required to transport students to a non-public school by private carrier rather than public transportation”. This was upheld in Appeal of Clancy, 37 Ed Dept Rep 280 (1988), Lavin, 32 Ed Dept Rep 249 (1992) and further upheld in the lawsuit summarily dismissed by the Mamaroneck Coalition.

      #2 S 35:136 specifically states “Public schools are not required to provide transportation to nonpublic schools on days when public schools are not in session”. This was upheld in Brautigam, 47 Ed Dept Rep 524 (2008).

      #3 For any student that can not be educated in the school system and must attend a private school the district pays for that student. Usually at significantly more than it would cost to educate them in the district.

      #4 You must also not be aware that even for non-IEP students placed in private school the district picks up the cost of a percentage of shared services such as nurses and special educators along with books. There is no free lunch for the district.

      This comes down to a simple question…

      Should the district bust the tax cap and force all tax payers (including empty nesters) to forego government funds in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for 550 children to go out of district by choice?

      If you are a Board of Ed member, this is the decision you have to make in this era of the tax cap. I think they are acting responsibly on behalf of the majority and unfortunately it is effecting some parents that God Forbid they may have to drive their child to private school for 20 of the 180 school days.

      BTW: I drive 2 of my 3 children all 180 days out of the year to school. I believe it is worth it for the quality of education that they receive.

      • I hope your third child walks. Because having a child bused to a public school in district, while at the same time railing about the unnecessary expense of transporting children of other tax-paying families to private schools sounds selfish and tone-deaf. We should incent families of school-age children (who pay our high school taxes but don’t use the public schools) to move here, not nickel and dime. It seems obvious that their busing should be as comprehensive as that provided to public school students, who consume busing IN ADDITION to all other public school resources.

        • I don’t think you read the response… You are off point, this is not about being fair or selfish, it’s about the law and the tax cap. The Law requires that some in district (and out of district) children get a bus and the law states that others do not. The vast majority of students in Mamaroneck do not get a bus. It would be great if all children in-district and out got a bus, but we pay our teachers way too much to do that.

          Your argument needs to be with the State and to your private school to figure out a way to make this all work, it can’t fall all on the district.

          Get to your local representatives to Albany and push for a tax deduction for your transportation or a voucher, get the state to provide aid to the district to bus to private school, get together with your child’s classmates and carpool or hire your own bus, get with your private school to have them find a solution or use the public alternatives. But no you just want to stomp your feet and say “I PAY TAXES, GIVE ME A BUS”!

          Sorry, not going to fly….

          • For what its worth, my children go to public school in the district and don’t get bussed. I get your broad point about fixed costs, I just don’t see why a bus/train pass is considered an acceptable alternative only for private school students, but not for public school students.

            And while the law allows the district to deny busing on days that public school is not in session, I don’t see the wisdom in it, considering the minimal cost saving. It seems designed to get private school families to vote against the school budget, because there is nothing in it for them.

            • Your public school child can get a bus pass, many in-district children do take the public bus option, you just have to ask.

              As they say… If you save $50,000 here and $50,000 there it eventually ads up to real money!

              If you want to look at it from a voting/political standpoint, the board again is making the right tactical decision…

              There are 30,000+ voters eligible for the school budget (although only 15% actually come out for the vote) and a few hundred voters that are effected by this change. I think the 30,000+ voters would be more pleased that the school board was cutting costs and keeping Albany sending them a check than the short sighted private school parents that would see their property values go down by hurting the schools.

              That the district has maintained on average a 1.6% year over year increase (where we have 2%+ in salaries increases and increased health insurance premiums) and stayed under the tax cap makes the Town/Villages more attractive to new buyers that help to keep values up.

              There is more opportunity to pick up YES votes on this than there is to create NO votes.

              You only need to look at Ramapo where the private school parents took over the school boards and gutted the schools and killed the property values as an example.

              I understand taking anything away is painful, but hard choices need to be made.

  2. The school board is going to do what is best for the in-district children and saving a teacher salary by reducing expense to send children out of district is a good tradeoff.

    The school system already does more than it is required by law. This was proven out by the ill-advised law suit that was summarily dismissed on the last change. I for one do not think the district has gone far enough. All transportation for non-IEP private school children should be eliminated. It is more important to keep our schools strong under the tax cap than it is to help parents that CHOOSE to opt out of the school system.

    BTW: Paying school taxes does not entitle anyone to a bus, if that were the argument than empty nesters with no children should be getting free a free bus also.

  3. Imagine that you are a member of a governing board that wishes to make a damaging and unpopular policy change. You wait until the last meeting of the year when you know that most of those affected will be away. You do not announce the topic on your mailing list. You bury it under another topic on the agenda. You silence any that show up to express their concerns. And you claim that the policy need not be presented to the public for discussion. What kind of a place would employ such sneaky, authoritarian tactics? Cold War-era Soviet Union? North Korea? China? No. These are the actions of the Mamaroneck Board of Education.

    The Mamaroneck Board of Education (BOE) has been seeking to curtail transportation services for private and parochial school students for several years. According to NY State law, the school district must provide busing to students who live between 2 (or 3 depending on grade) and 15 miles of their schools. In the 2014-2015 school year, the District proposed sending young children to school via public transportation on journeys that could take as long as 3 hours and involve 4-6 miles of walking a day. That proposal was met with outrage by the affected families, and led to the largest civic protests and demonstrations in Mamaroneck’s recent history, forcing the BOE to back away from the proposal.

    Once again, the BOE is seeking to cut back on transportation services. Now they have decided to provide buses to parochial and private school students only on days when public schools are in session. This means that the nearly 500 students in this District attending parochial and private schools who use the buses will simply find themselves without transportation on all the days that their school is in session but public school is not.

    Whether you agree or disagree with this policy change, what is most concerning is how the BOE made its decision.

    Knowing how many people would object to this policy change, the BOE decided to make the change without the community’s knowledge or input. Although they had all year to propose changes to the transportation policy, they introduced the proposal only at the very last Study Session of the year, on June 7th, when most private schools had already ended their school year. They knew private school families were starting to leave for summer vacations at that point and were not likely attend a BOE meeting. Even parents who were still around were not likely to know about this meeting, because signing up for BOE notices does not include notices about Study Session meetings.

    At the meeting, the few parents who did show up to ask questions were silenced. Board President Ann LoBue told them that the Study Session is not open to public comment, adding, “I prefer not to engage with the audience.” Further, she stated, “This is a business as usual arrangement in the District and not something we need a great deal of public input on to make a decision.” Given past reaction to the BOE’s transportation proposals, it is hard to fathom how the Board President could consider the current proposal “business as usual.” LoBue hoped that the decision could be adopted right then and there without the public knowing about this controversial and — in many people’s eyes — extremely unfair policy.

    After other Board members recognized how bad it would look to adopt such an unpopular change without public knowledge or input, the Board decided to hold a meeting on June 14th to let the “other side,” according to one Board member, have a voice. There was little chance for the community to make its voice heard at that June 14 meeting, however. The BOE carefully removed the word “transportation” from anywhere on the agenda. The topic was buried under the title “Superintendent’s Report,” so unless you had some privileged knowledge, no member of the community could actually know that transportation was being discussed.

    Although some members of the community did show up on June 14 to voice their concerns, we cannot not what they said, because their comments have been removed from the LMC-TV recording of the meeting. Why did the BoE scrub their comments from the record? Are they so afraid of scrutiny that they are resorting to authoritarian tactics? Questions submitted to the Board by e-mail also went unanswered. The only discussion by the Board on June 14 was whether they, as our elected representatives, even needed to vote on the issue or if they could just allow the “administration” (the Superintendent) to enact it. And so, the new policy was adopted.

    Whatever your view of the new transportation policy, this is not how democracy is done. Imagine it was another issue the community cared about—tax rates, development caps—how would people feel if their elected representatives made changes that they knew the community opposed, without giving the public opportunity to have their concerns addressed or their questions answered?

    The BOE’s lack of respect for the democratic process stems from the way the Board members are elected. In Mamaroneck, Board candidates are pre-screened by a committee of volunteers whose proceedings are not open to the public. After the selection committee vets the candidates they are placed on the ballot. With the rare exception of the past election, when three candidates vied for two seats, candidates for the BOE almost always run unopposed. The ballot does not provide an option to vote against a candidate, so if a seat is unopposed, there is technically no way for a voter to express no confidence in a candidate. With no choice among candidates and no way to vote against a candidate, is it any surprise that the Board members demonstrate such contempt for democratic procedures? As someone who left the Soviet Union in search of political freedom, I am deeply saddened to be living in a community whose voting procedures for elected officials and their behavior is identical to the one I fled.

  4. This does not surprise me. Dr. Shaps and the board are cutting costs at the expense of students in the district. Private school students live in the district and their families pay taxes.

  5. Once again the School Board acted in a sneaky and disingenuous manner by making this decision over the summer while people are away on vacation and had no opportunity to be heard. Surrounding Towns do not treat their private school community this way. Mamaroneck is pathetic.

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