Tonight: Mamaroneck Schools to Consider Cutting Buses to Private Schools

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school bus The Mamaroneck School District will hold a study session to consider cutting school bus transportation to children attending private and parochial schools. Tuesday, March 5, 2013 — 7:30 pm Mamaroneck High School Library Classroom

The Citizens Financial Advisory Committee’s (CFAC) Transportation Sub-Committee will present findings and recommendations from its study of private and parochial school transportation. The District committed to further review transportation for private/parochial school students as one of its 2012-2013 District Goals.  The CFAC is made up of community members with financial experience or expertise who provide input to the District and the Board on financial issues and undertake in-depth research and analysis on specific topics.

Please Note: During this meeting, we will accept questions from community members via e-mail.  Questions must be related to the topic at hand and must not be anonymous.

You can e-mail the Board at board@mamkschools.org to have your question read by a Board member. We will make every attempt to answer as many questions on-air as possible.

LMC-TV will broadcast Live on both cable (Channel 76 Cablevision and 35 Verizon) and the internet. The meeting will be re-aired at 6 pm on Friday, 12/21 on Channel 77 Cablevision and Channel 34 Verizon, plus additional times as noted on LMC-TV’s website.

14 thoughts on “Tonight: Mamaroneck Schools to Consider Cutting Buses to Private Schools

  1. To be really fair stop busing public school children in the district as well . That would be equitable and not too big a hardship on these parents as well .

  2. The point that jsacks makes about equity of taxation is somewhat interesting, but not really the main issue. Most people accept that you pay a general level of taxes to the community and use different services at different times. While there is indeed a debate to be had about how taxes should get raised and spent, there are many directions to take that debate – how about considering school vouchers for both public and private schools – a mechanism widely used in such radical places as the Netherlands and Denmark? Not sure you want to open up that debate….

    As for the next point, a strong public school system is by no means the only thing that keeps up property values. The quality of community, the quality of local services and the cost effectiveness with which they are delivered, the level of taxation, the attractiveness of the community relative to similar local neighbourhoods etc etc all play a role.

    We all want a strong community and recognize there are significant budget challenges. However, this proposal undermines the community without solving big issues.

  3. I have 2 children who attend private schools. One is bused while the other is not (distance is too far). My child’s bus has 13 children on it. All of these students purchase their own textbooks, etc. just like college students. I pay approximately $30,000 per year in taxes and assume that the other parents of these children pay fairly close to the same amount, if not more. The cost to the district to bus our children to school is far less than the benefit received from our combined taxes.

  4. The cost per student may be “relatively small” as you suggest, but if all 431 students who currently use the bus transport were to enter/re-enter the public school system, I would dare say that the cost to the district would be more than the $1.167M in savings from cutting the service (as per last night’s presentation).

    in response to bullet point 3 below, I have two children who attend private school and no “text books, health services or other student-related services” have been provided to them by the district as far as I am aware. Perhaps you are referring to parochial schools?

    • I really don’t think that free busing is the reason that parents have chosen to send their children to private school. There is an expectation that some children may return but the evidence in other districts has shown that there will be no mass migration back for these students.

      Additional children enter the district each year. The district is prepared to absorb them and provide the best quality education they can. In fact Mamaroneck is one of the few districts that has been seeing increased enrolment each year when the vast majority of district enrolment has been declining (up by 3.6% from 2009 to 2011 see: http://rocdocs.democratandchronicle.com/database/ny-school-enrollment).

      This is primarily because young families are moving in based on the quality of schools and not based on free busing to private schools.

      As far as the re-imbursements for expenses, those are paid by the district directly to the private school. You should inquire with them since these rates vary. This is why the cost for an out of district child is more than just the transportation cost.

      I am acutely aware of the effect this will have, but the anger shown by parents is misplaced. Years of out of control pension and health costs and yes some miscalculation by previous boards on negotiating teacher contracts have put us in the position of needing to cut everything we can to maintain program quality. This is true with every district in NYS.

      The Board does have an obligation to the community as well to keep taxes down. Westchester County already has the highest property tax rate in the country. By not taking this action they are asking the entire community to pay for what NYS says is not a mandated expense.

      There will be a lot of tough decisions that will have an impact on a lot of populations. The Board is charged with setting as a priority the education of the children that are housed within their 4 walls first and all others after that. That is the reality of our times. The anger and frustration should be directed at Albany, they are the only ones that can create the real reforms required or create a voucher system that allows you to move your school tax dollars to the school of your choice.

      If you really care about this issue, you will start to work to become part of the solution by contacting your representatives to force them to fix the pension system and work with your private schools to take over transportation to keep the costs down for yourselves.

      • You could start by cutting some of the sports programs if you are so concerned about maintaining the current “quality” of the educational program.

  5. Although I appreciate that there will be hardship and additional expense for parents of private and parochial school children, there are several flawed arguments being presented….

    1. If this is a situation of equity for parents who have placed their children in schools outside the district, then there needs to be equity for all tax payers including empty nesters. Should empty nesters get a tax break for not having children in the district? Should parents with more than 1 child in the district pay more? The answer is no, they choose to live in a community which supports its public schools. A strong public school system is what keeps up property values.

    2. The marginal incremental cost of a child returning to the district is relatively small, until such time that teachers and infrastructure need to be added there is only marginal cost to the district. We do not add buildings, janitors, additional utilities, principals, nurses, etc. when we add additional students.

    3. The district does not only pay for transportation for out of district children, it also pays for text books, health service and other student related costs to the private schools for these students.

    4. The children affected in this study are children that have not been deemed as requiring special education at another facility where the district could not provide those services. The 431 children in the study are private and parochial students that parents have decided to move out of district.

    5. Parents that place their children out of district want to argue safety as an issue but, how a child gets to school is a parent’s choice. The analysis only says that the district would be meeting its legal obligation by providing a bus/rail pass for the student if a public option exists. There is no requirement under the law to have a private bus for door to door service. It is a parent’s choice if they choose to use the public option as it is a parent’s choice if they will have their child walk to school. As a parent that has children that are “within walking distance”, I do not feel it is safe for them to walk since they would be on busy roads with no sidewalks, so I car pool and drive them. Why should out of district parents be able to argue safety as an issue when in-district parents cannot make that argument since that is not part of any law?

    The district is heading into a fiscal cliff, it is going to be nearly impossible beyond this current budget period for the district to stay within the tax cap. A district with ever rising school taxes will cause more people to leave and deter more families from moving in. That is the downward spiral that reduces property values.

    The district has already made painful cuts and transferred expense for programs back to parents, there can be no sacred cows. The potential for the district to save over $1mm a year by cutting a service that is not mandated by law cannot be ignored.
    ,

    • New York State requires that books – if available – be “loaned” to students who are being educated out of district. The max cost per student is a total of $58 dollars per year (according to documents that are posted on the web) and I know of very few private school students who take advantage of this…. mainly because there is absolutely nothing about services that are required to be provided by the district to these students posted on the district website (surprise). I have requested information on the other services (health, etc) from Dr Shap’s staff, however have not received any response.

  6. The report presented appears to be highly biased, and incomplete in its assessment of the effects of such change. No one in the self-appointed CFAC has a child in a parochial or private school, they were not prepared to share their data, their views on what constituted “fairness” were highly partial, etc etc.

    In the long run, this will not just affect those who send their children to private school, but also others as people will look to move out of the area with an impact on housing prices and tax rates. Those directly impacted will now, i imagine, be looking at all avenues for challenging this.

  7. Maybe that they pay property taxeswithout sending their kids to public school . How s that for a rationale .

    • The rationale is that you as a taxpayer do not have to pay the additional cost associated with the children attending the District’s Public Schools. Their parents pay for them to attend Private School. Their parents still pay school taxes but they do not utilize the schools. The school district gets to utilize the difference in the marginal cost associated with educating one child, versus the marginal cost of providing bus transportation to that child

      If the bus service goes away the parents would be more likely to utilize the school district and your taxes would likely go up.

      The cost of the bus service versus the cost of the attending the local Public school is much less.

      You pay lower school taxes by providing bus transportation, then you would if the children attended Public Schools.

      • Why should I have to pay school tax! My son attends a “private” school because he is dyslexic, and the district was unable to teach him to read.

        So we pay in excess of $30,000, out of pocket each year to send our child to this school. We ALSO pay our full local school tax. We would be delighted to have our local taxes adjusted downward, but that is not likely to happen.

        All we ask of the district is to put get our child (and an entire bus load of others in the same boat), to school every day. That sounds like a deal to me! Maybe we should all send our children back to our Mamaroneck, and see the additional cost would be to the system.

        • What is the justification for terminating busing for private school children but continuing it for public school children? NY State law requires the district to provide transportation for all lower and middle school children who attend a school between 2 and 15 miles from home. The text of the law repeatedly states that transportation should be provided “equally to all children residing in the district.” The district provides busing to over one hundred Hommocks students living more than two miles from school, and does not appear to be contemplating terminating their busing. Isn’t this a clear case of discriminating against one group of taxpayers without any rational basis?

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