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Cost Savings for BOE: Look at Improper Transportation Costs First

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Cost Savings for BOE: Look at Improper Transportation Costs First

November 23, 2009 - 14:07
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At the last New Rochelle Board of Education budget hearings, I remember the BOE getting questions from one of it's board members about excessive funding for private school transportation using our money. It seemed at the time that this amount was several million dollars of waste. I also recall that no one on the board wanted to even address the issue and felt embarrassed, particularly Dee Pollow and Cindy Deutsch, corrupt and delusional members of the board.

Now my concern is that if we are going to begin the process of smacking the community with excessive taxes, let's look at the BOE and how they spend our money. If we are spending 2 or 3 million dollars on private transportation to catholic schools and yeshivas, and we are not getting reimbursed one penny, we must eliminate this free ride to private schools. It's an unfair and unethical use of public funds!!!! Taxpayers are paying for public schools and public services that benefit the community as a whole. We are not paying or subsidizing religious education because of political correctness or because of under the table agreements that were never made public. This is a waste and unnecessary. It is because of this reason alone that the next year's budget needs to be reviewed carefully.

Once again it goes to show you the political power and elitism of the Northenders who get what they want at the expense of the whole city. Enough is enough. The state will cut the funding to NR at the tune of about 3 Million. Well this is the amount that we spend every year on private - hush, hush - transportation never approved by the community. Time to stop it.

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Transportation to private school is not a privelege but a right. It is available in every district in the state. It was even around when I attended a Catholic High School on LI in the 70's. The district must supply transportation to the school of your choice. I don't know the history of this but I am sure there is even a court case that mandates it.

If anyone knows different please respond. By the way I would bet that much of the transportation costs are for southern New Rochelle residents fleeing the sub standard schools in our part of the City. Did you see the disparity between Albert Leoanrd graduates and Isaac Young graduates in the NHS program in the High School?

I don't think there is any legal or court obligation. Ask the board when you attend one of their sessions. They will tell you it is custom and tradition. Well, there was once a tradition when women couldn't vote also.

Robert Cox's picture

newroresident wrote "transportation to private school is not a privelege but a right...The district must supply transportation to the school of your choice."

Wrong. There is no "right" to busing. There is, however, State Aid available for busing and there are rules about what transportation is eligible for State Aid.

You can read about that here: http://bit.ly/8uy91g

Each school district can, subject to voter, approval, set whatever rules it wants.

"Nothing herein contained shall prevent trustees and boards of education under rules established by them, from providing transportation in addition to that credited for State aid purposes, provided the same is reasonable and in conformity with the provisions of law, and money is legally available therefor."

The District web site says their policy is as follows:

"Free transportation is provided for public and non-public elementary school students in kindergarten through grade six who reside within the boundaries of the City School District of New Rochelle and who live more than 1-1/2 miles, but not more than 10 miles from the school they attend."

"I would bet that much of the transportation costs are for southern New Rochelle residents fleeing the sub standard schools in our part of the City."

I would bet you are wrong about this as well. Consider that most of the students who are getting busing that is outside the voter approved limits live in the North End of New Rochelle because it is more affluent and therefore the parents are more likely to be able to afford private school and are more likely to send their kids to schools outside the 10 mile limit.

New Rochelle is a long City and so 10 miles from the tip of the North End is very different than 10 miles from the South End. If you live at the northern tip near five corners in Scarsdale then 10 miles reaches all the way up to Briarcliff and east towards Greenwich (all of New Rochelle is within 10 miles of the Hudson River). If you live at the southern most point, near Pelham off of Shore Road then 10 miles reaches as far South as 125th Street in Manhattan.

What this indicates is that the vast majority of children should not be bused to schools in Manhattan, north of 287 or Connecticut north of Greenwich and no children should be bused (except for Special Education students which the district places in out-of-district schools).

If someone were so motivated, a good FOIL request to make would be to ask Liz Saraiva [[email protected]] to inspect all files and folders related to the voter approval of the current transportation policy. One thing you will not see is voter approval of busing for Pre-K students. Even the district's own web site says that Pre-K students are not eligible for transportation provided by the district. They are getting it anyway.

Watch this video from last Spring when Quinn explained his view of the consequences of voters rejecting the 2009 school budget.

Giving residents who place children in private school "free" busing is a way to keep parents of private school students in line when it comes time to vote on the school budget. Anyone who watched Quinn's answer to a question last spring during the budget "campaign" knows that if the state took a look at how the district was spending transportation money it would find that the district was in violation of New York State law.

If the state came into run a contingency budget, the following would apply"
(http://bit.ly/5RZxnK)

"Notwithstanding the defeat of a school budget, school districts shall continue to transport students to and from the regular school program in accordance with the mileage limitations previously adopted by the qualified voters of the school district. Such mileage limits shall change only when amended by a special proposition passed by a majority of the qualified voters of the school district. In cases where the school budget is defeated by such qualified voters of the school district, appropriations for transportation costs for purposes other than for transportation to and from the regular school program, and transportation that would constitute an ordinary contingent expense pursuant to subdivision one of this section, shall be authorized in the budget only after approval by the qualified voters of the district."

What about when the children are in grades 7 and up? I hear that they take city busses that only contain students. There are no bus monitors and it can get dicey. Do the parents have to pay per trip? How does it work? I hear that Albert Leonard uses much more busses that Isaac Young, too. Not sure what that means, though, and if they are needed at Isaac. More children seem to walk to Isaac Young.

Regarding private school busing, I think that these families pay so much in property taxes and don't use the schools that at least they can get transportation. Is my logic flawed?

Robert Cox's picture

As mentioned before, it is up to the voters of a particular district to decide eligibility standards for busing. There are State Aid limits but a community can vote to exceed those limits. If New Rochelle voters want every kid to have free busing regardless of age or where they live we can do that.

It would help settle this issue if someone would FOIL for the referendum or otherwise obtain the paperwork by which voters approved the current policy. The policy as published by the District says kids in K-6 get free busing if the live more than 1.5 miles from their school or less than 10 miles. The distance, by the way, is based on the shortest surface route between the two points, not "as the crow flies". As noted above, basically any child in K-6 attending school in the Bronx or Southern Westchester gets free busing under the policy stated on the district web site.

The policy does not include Pre-K students. They are getting busing. It appears that they are not entitled busing and voters have not been asked to approve a change.

As far as whether private school parents SHOULD get free busing, that is up to the voters. If the district has obtained consent from the voters for their current policy then that settles the matter.

As to whether this is right or wrong, I would be curious as to the policies of other school districts in the area. If someone wants to visit the web sites for surrounding districts I would encourage them to post what they find here. Google is your friend!

I am not concerned that a child who is entitled to busing is getting busing but that a child clearly not entitled to busing is getting busing because the opens up the possibility that someone was bribed or did some sort of personal or political favor. I would say that whatever the law says and whatever rules the community approves is the standard.

Quinn indicates that under a contingency budget, the State would disallow some transportation spending. As the State cannot disallow properly approved transportation it clearly suggests that some of the spending is on transportation that is illegal. I would want to look at that. There is also busing for special education students. I would also want to look at that.

I have heard plenty of stories of people getting busing they are not entitled to receive but until the legal basis for the district policy is clearly established there is no good way to evaluate these stories. If the district's policy was never approved by voters then all non-public school busing would have to be discontinued until the a referendum could be put to voters and that is not likely to happen until May. I would argue that it is unfair to punish parents and children if the District screwed this up so I would support a position that says everything stays "as is" until a vote can be held and that the rules adopted under the vote should not take effect until July 2010. At least this way parents who find themselves shut out of free busing have time to make alternative arrangements.

For detailed questions you can pick up the phone and call the CSDNR Office of Transportation at 576-4230

I send my kids to public schools, but those that send children to private schools pay taxes too and not to mention tuition for the private school.

As the article implies, $3 million is used for busing to private schools, how much does the BoE spend on just public school transportation?

If times are so dire and the district is looking to trim costs where ever they can, why was there a large holiday party at a local country club?

Robert Cox's picture

and the tickets are not cheap.

I am not aware that the district subsidizes the party but I believe most if not all of the cost is paid for by the attendees.

It used to be the case that the party was paid for by the district but Organisciak ended that when he took office.

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