For private-school parents and students, discussions of transportation boil down to one thing: student safety. “This is truly a safety issue,” said Stephen Miller. “Look at the number of registered sex offenders who are on those routes.” He added that it is “shameful” for the board to cut funding for yellow bus service for the three additional private schools simply because it is an easy cut to make.
But Greg Guercio, the board’s attorney, said that in the “eyes of the law,” safety and transportation are two separate considerations. “Safety in and of itself is not an issue that’s supposed to factor into the determination of transportation — it’s strictly a combination of mileage with some impact of time,” he said.
The district has established criteria for providing MetroCards to private-school students: If a student can get to school in 90 minutes or less with no more than one transfer, he or she qualifies for a MetroCard. District administrators use the MTA Trip Planner to determine routes and times to each school.
Once the district receives all private-school transportation requests — by April 1 — administrators request bids from local bus companies. If the bids, which come back in late June or early July, are less than the cost of MetroCards, students will get yellow buses. The district must go with the lowest cost, Heidenreich said. With some changes in bus routes and schedules offered by Veolia Transportation, which manages the Nassau InterCounty Express bus system, he said, there are potential savings in the use of public buses.
Sharon Daly, whose daughter graduated from parochial school, submitted a petition to the board with nearly 1,800 signatures of residents who oppose cutting yellow bus service to the three additional schools. Several students protested the changes, including Ann-Isabel Previl, a junior at St. Francis Preparatory School. Last fall, St. Francis Prep students began taking an MTA bus to and from school. Previl implored the board not to go through with the changes, saying that on rainy or snowy days it can take her two hours to get home.Major support for rifle team
In recent district budgets there have been cuts in athletics, like a reduction in assistant coaches, but teams have remained intact. In 2013-14, the bowling, golf and rifle squads would be the first district teams to be eliminated.