ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) recently issued a formal statement to the state Legislature that outlined concerns over how the executive budget proposal for the 2011-12 fiscal year will affect student transportation operations.
On behalf of the association and its members, Executive Director Peter Mannella appeared before the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committee Joint Hearings to present the statement.
“The governor’s 2011-12 proposed executive budget contains measures that are intended to reduce the overall costs of school transportation, that is a so-called ‘expense-driven aid.’ We are concerned that these proposals will not ultimately result in lower costs for the state and our schools. Moreover, we are concerned that they could adversely affect school transportation operations, efficiency and student safety. The transportation of 2.3 million of our children requires us to take cautious and well-prepared actions. We do not believe that these cost-cutting proposals meet that test,” Mannella said.
He went on to say that NYAPT has advanced more than a dozen mandates that could save as much as $200 million in this school year and future years, and he urged the Legislature and the governor to consider implementation of some or all of those ideas. The association believes the mandates will yield more cost savings than those contained in the proposed budget.
Mannella also pointed out that student transportation programs are efficient and have become increasingly cost effective with new technologies and management strategies. He urged the state to understand that school district transportation offices and staff are responding to demands placed on them by the state and by local needs.
“When the state imposes costly requirements on transporting students, it cannot then say ‘transportation is spending too much money and needs to become more efficient,’” he said. “The answer is to remove or modify some of the actual reasons for the costs.”
Mannella also encouraged the state to work with pupil transporters to reduce or adjust those costs.
Finally, he emphasized that NYAPT recognizes the state’s difficult financial circumstances and again urged the Legislature to consider the association’s “concrete recommendations for change that will save money,” and to “either reject or make significant modifications to the executive budget proposal.”
For more information about these issues or about NYAPT, visit its website or call (518) 463-4937.