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Mamaroneck Bus Controversy: District Fact Sheet

Mamaroneck school trustees plan to have about a quarter of the non-public school students who ride district buses to and from school to use public transportation at the district's expense instead.

Parents of parochial and private schoolers are strongly opposed. Parents who want transportation to non-public schools must make the request every year by April 1.

District officials have issued a fact sheet explaining the plan and their reasoning:

Three Years in the Works  

For the past few years, the District has worked diligently to contain costs without directly impacting students’ educational experience. In looking at all ways to reduce expenses, the Board, beginning in 2012, identified Transportation Services as an area that needed to be examined carefully.  Costs for transportation at one time were funded primarily by the State, but the District now pays 95%.  A Board Transportation Subcommittee was established to analyze bus routes and determine the feasibility of shifting some student transportation from private, yellow buses, to public alternate routes.   Click here for Q&A as background. 
 
Board Considered Multiple Scenarios and Agreed to Limited Reductions in Busing; 
Policy Change
 Impacts a Portion of Our Students Traveling to Private/Parochial Schools 
Approximately 100 of the 439 current secondary students we currently transport to private/parochial schools could be impacted by the policy change.  The policy change means that some students at 9 out of the 37 private/parochial schools where we currently transport students would be offered transit passes paid for by the District.  Click here for the Subcommittee’s Recommendation/ Presentation to the Board at its December 17th, 2013 Board meeting. The Board deliberated over various scenarios and, in the end, agreed to keep all elementary school students traveling to private/parochial schools on yellow buses.  The criteria they agreed to for 6th -12th grade students included:

  • capping travel time from home to school (or school to home) at 90 minutes;
  • allowing only 1 transfer per trip; this means two vehicles could be used, and
  • permitting a maximum walking distance in accordance with State limits, which we use for our in-district students --  2 miles each way for grades 6-8 and 3 miles each way for grades 9-12. 


Within the Law   

The District and Board worked closely with legal counsel to ensure that the changes reflected in the transportation policy are permitted by law.  Like each of the other budgetary reductions necessary in this economic environment, the decision to scale back transportation services was not made lightly.  Recognizing the potential impact the policy change will have on families in our community, the District held off as long as it felt it could without changing the transportation policy.  For the last several years, the Board has been considering reducing costswherever legally possible, in ways that least affect our core educational programs.  All these cuts are difficult and impact our children in some way.

One of Many Reductions to be Made in This Year’s Budget   

The Board has continued to look at all budgetary expenses during ongoing times of economic challenge. In the past few years, the District has worked extraordinarily hard at limiting budget growth.  Our budgets over the past two years alone have reflected more than $2 million dollars in reductions.  And, the Superintendent has indicated that some $2 million in additional reductions are yet to come. 

Community Engagement and Feedback Solicited 

Before reaching its decision to change the transportation policy, the Board held five public meetings in which the topic was discussed, and public comment was heard.  Board members also met independently with private school parent representatives to engage in conversation about the criteria by which yellow bus elimination would be determined. 
 

E-mail the Board at board@mamkschools.org with questions or comments.

Jonathan Sacks March 16, 2014 at 08:23 PM
I have a simple answer for you... Why should the BOE take into account safety for your child traveling out of district when they do not take safety into account for my children in the district? How is that fair? My 6 year old would have to walk 1.5 miles on Old White Plains Rd with no sidewalks, crossing guards, in the dark and snow to get to school. My 15 year old would have to walk 3 miles each way to school also under the same conditions. So we drive them and car-pool! Safety of the child getting to school is the parents, not the districts. You choose to put your child on a train not the district. If you are not comfortable with their commute then do as I do and drive them, car pool or get a private bus with the other students attending the school. In fact the point that you bring up is valid but directed the wrong way. I ask: Why is the board still providing transportation for elementary school children when they require in-district children to walk up to 2 miles. Why are they not asking private school parents to have their children walk up to 2 miles to a central drop off point to then take public transportation or perhaps a yellow bus. That would make things equal and save us money. Why are you not up in arms that you private school is going to allow "their" children to travel to school (in your words) un-safely? Why are you only pointing your fingers at the school board and not your clergy and administrators? This is unfortunately the way it is going to be, start becoming part of the solution by forcing the private schools to the table to work out some transition plan where they take over management of the transportation of the children.
Svetlana Wasserman March 17, 2014 at 03:38 AM
I have a simple answer for you as well. It is called THE LAW. For those who may not be familiar with the law's requirements, I am copying it below. The law has mileage eligibility requirements which unfortunately your 6 year old does not meet (although if your 15 year old has to walk 3 miles to school then he or she IS in fact eligible for a school bus and does NOT have to walk. Please be sure to submit your transportation form by April 1 to be able to use the bus). The fact is, I think it would be wonderful if the law were changed to allow your children to get to school in the safety of a school bus. But taking school buses away from hundreds of more children will not make your children's commute any safer or more convenient. And please remember that the schools that private school children would be traveling to are much farther than the District schools, necessitating travel on multiple forms of public transportation IN ADDITION to walking. Your comparison is not apples to apples. The fact is that parents in the district have proposed multiple solutions to the Board of Education that could yield equal savings without the draconian cost to the community, such as centralized pick-ups, working with other districts to combine routes, rebidding the bus contracts and other ideas. None of these alternatives were explored with any serious intent. So in short is it IS the District's legal responsibility to transport eligible children to school safely and they must meet that obligation. Education Law 3635: Sufficient transportation facilities (including the operation and maintenance of motor vehicles) shall be provided by the school district for all the children residing within the school district to and from the school they legally attend, who are in need of such transportation because of the remoteness of the school to the child or for the promotion of the best interest of such children. Such transportation shall be provided for all children attending grades kindergarten through eight who live more than two miles from the school which they legally attend and for all children attending grades nine through twelve who live more than three miles from the school which they legally attend and shall be provided for each such child up to a distance of fifteen miles, the distances in each case being measured by the nearest available route from home to school. The cost of providing such transportation between two or three miles, as the case may be, and fifteen miles shall be considered for the purposes of this chapter to be a charge upon the district and an ordinary contingent expense of the district.
Jonathan Sacks March 17, 2014 at 07:55 AM
You are reading the law selectively: There is nothing that says anywhere that transportation needs to be a "Yellow Bus" and further nothing that says there needs to be door to door pickup (in fact it says the opposite). 35:125(1) Matter of McIntyre, 25 Ed Dept Rep 156 (1985) A school district is not required to transport students to a non-public school by private carrier rather than public transportation (Appeal of Clancy, 37 Ed Dept Rep 280 (1998;Appeal of Lavin, 32 Ed Dept Rep 249 (1992)). This has been upheld through multiple appeals. You are correct the School Board has not looked yet into centralized pick-up, that should come next year when the balance of private school busing is eliminated. As a member of the CFAC I am more than willing to sit down with anyone to look at solutions (not just to hear you are breaking the law, if that is your position I suggest you start your law suit to get it over with). I have suggested a summit that includes the administrators of the private schools and parents to discuss how to reduce pain, but none have accepted. The sooner you engage and force the private schools to start picking up the slack the sooner you will help find a better solution.
Svetlana Wasserman March 19, 2014 at 01:29 AM
The law is quite clear about what is and is not legal, and we are very confident that the courts will see it our way - that is, assuming the Board continues to go forward with this unfair, unsafe and illegal plan which will end up costing taxpayers more in legal fees than they purport to save in the budget. What is really left unanswered is how the board believes this even remotely safe for our kids, when we know that Nancy Pierson has stated for the record that she would not "put my elementary school student on the [Bee Line] bus" and that elementary schools are next. Even board members know this is a dangerous plan, but refuse to answer questions from concerned parents.

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