March 6, 2013 | 2 comments | 607 views
Private-school parents take a stand
Oppose high school district’s plan to provide MetroCards instead of yellow buses
Changes in the way dozens of private-school students get to school could be looming next year if the Valley Stream Central High School District’s plan to provide them with MetroCards instead of yellow buses is approved.
Needing to cut about $2.65 million from its budget to meet the state property-tax cap, district administrators have suggested a change in transportation for students attending Chaminade High School in Mineola, Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead and the Crescent School in Hempstead. Providing those students with MetroCards for MTA transportation, instead of school buses, is expected to save about $120,000.
However, parents of private-school students are concerned that this could compromise their children’s safety, and they plan to fight the change. Their biggest fear is that their children will have long waits at bus stops on dangerous roads.
More than 70 people gathered in the Holy Name of Mary School cafeteria on Feb. 27 to chart a course of action — which will include petitions, letter-writing and phone campaigns and speaking out at the district’s upcoming Board of Education meeting.
Many of the parents who attended last week’s meeting have children who would be affected by the change. Others were parents of students who have already graduated from high school or attend unaffected parochial schools, but were there to show their support.
Holy Name Principal Richard McMahon said that high school district officials informed him that any decision on transportation is not final. However, the proposal still worries him. “My concern is that this could be just a slow chipping away of the services that we receive from public schools,” he said.
Under New York state education law, public school districts are required to provide resident students with transportation to private schools within 15 miles. The method of transport, however, is not specified.
Last year, the high school district eliminated buses to St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens and the Lawrence Woodmere Academy. Many parents didn’t find out about the change until late August, and complained to the Board of Education in September.