School Transportation Reform
Published on November 18th, 2011
Limited and inconsistent transportation services impose a significant burden on parents who enroll their children in religious and independent schools. Moreover, the availability of bus service often determines whether parents can exercise their right to select a school for their children.
Modify school transportation services to:
(1) increase the distance school districts are required to transport children to school from 15 to 25 miles,
(2) maintain transportation when public schools are closed or when they make mid-year calendar changes,
(3) require small city school districts to transport up to the mileage limit rather than city limits, and
(4) provide 90% reimbursement to school districts for the costs of transporting students to independent and religious schools.
In the 1970’s, there were more nearly 1,400 Catholic elementary and secondary schools in New York State. Today there are less than half that number. This dramatic decline, coupled with the continued consolidations of public school districts means that children must travel much farther if their parents choose a Catholic school. Moreover, because the State no longer reimburses school districts for 90 percent of their transportation costs, public schools have been unable to maintain the same level of transportation services.
As a result, parents of children in religious, private or independent schools often struggle with transportation arrangements for their children. In many cases, parents who would otherwise select an independent, religious, or private school simply cannot exercise this right because transportation services are unavailable or too difficult to manage.
Not only are these parents denied their right to choose a school for their children, taxpayers must then pay more than $18,000, on average, for each child enrolled in a public school as compared to the hundreds of dollars it would have cost to provide transportation to the school of their choice.
To help parents exercise their right to choose a school and to relieve a significant burden on taxpayers, we urge that the maximum distance school districts are required to transport students is increased from 15 to 25 miles and that such limit also apply to small city school. Additionally, we urge that school districts be required to continue transporting students to independent and religious schools on days public schools are closed, up to five days, and when public schools make mid-year calendar changes. School districts should also be reimbursed for 90% of the costs associated with the transportation of children to religious and independent schools.
Enacting these reforms will alleviate the aggravation families endure in arranging transportation for their children. Moreover, taxpayers will continue to enjoy significant savings when parents are provided the means and services that enable them to enroll their children in a religious, private or independent school.
You can download this document, School Transportation Reform, in PDF form.