TRUSTEE ASKS THAT DISTANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR BUSING TO MIDDLE SCHOOL BE LOWERED
February 4, 2015 -- At Thursday’s North Shore Board of Education meeting the seven trustees and Superintendent discussed the idea of reducing bus transportation distance requirements for students in Middle School. Under New York State law, such a change can only be made with voter approval.
The issue came up during the “Old Business” portion of the meeting, when Trustee Michael Nightingale said that he had been contacted by several parents who questioned why their children who had received bus transportation in fifth grade, were no longer receiving it in sixth grade when they moved on to the Middle School although still technically in an elementary grade. In response to a question from the Superintendent, Trustee Nightingale said that he supported reducing the mileage requirements for grades 6, 7 and 8 to ¾ of a mile – the same distance requirement as for students in the elementary schools. As it currently stands, the district provides bus transportation to students in grades k-5 who live ¾ miles or greater, grade 6 - 1 mile or greater, and in grades 7-12 - 1 ½ miles or greater.
The proposition could be put before voters along with the budget and trustees election if a majority of the board agreed to it, or as Trustee Nightingale pointed out, if residents petitioned the board to do so. Under District policy such a petition would only require 25 signatures.
The issue had first been raised early this fall, not long after a student was struck by a van on Glen Cove Avenue, when a resident suggested that providing transportation to 7th and 8th graders at the same distance limit provided to 6th graders (1 mile) could help to reduce traffic congestion in front of the Middle and High Schools during drop-off and pick up times with little cost to the district since many of those buses have many empty seats. At that meeting, Dr. Melnick said that the district’s transportation office would provide information to the board as to what the potential costs would look like.
That information was discussed two meetings later. Dr. Melnick stated then, as he did this past Thursday, that whether or not eligible students chose to take the bus, the potential costs of transporting all eligible students had to be included in the budget. The increase on the budget line would be $481,000 to reduce the mileage requirement for 7th and 8th graders to 1 mile, and $964,000 to reduce the distant requirement for 6, 7, and 8th graders to ¾ of a mile. Whether or not the funds would actually be spent is another matter, and dependent on the number of students who used the service. Dr. Melnick had said previously that only about 1/3 of students who are eligible for busing actually use it.
The Superintendent stated that when the issue was discussed in October, he was under the impression that the Board was not inclined to put either option on the ballot for a vote. On Thursday night, Trustee Lara Gonzalez said that at that time the Board was not yet aware of the significant decline in TRS contributions and that perhaps it was worth a second look. Trustee Nightingale added, “we offer a lot of things to children here, and one of them would be getting them to school better.”
The board agreed to discuss the issue at a later meeting in the context of looking at cuts that have been made in recent years.
BACK TO WEEKLY