ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) called upon the state Legislature on Tuesday to invest more funding in school transportation and school bus safety.
Peter Mannella, executive director for NYAPT, appeared before the joint budget hearing convened by the Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee to review the executive budget proposal for school aid.
In the formal NYAPT statement, the association called for the Legislature to take the following actions in the final state budget that will be adopted before April 1:
- Continue to provide sufficient funding for school transportation. NYAPT underscored the importance of continuing transportation aid as an “expense-based aid” for which school districts receive a reimbursement for expense outlays in the previous year, with adjustments for wealth and need.
- Provide funding in support of transportation services for universal pre-kindergarten students. NYAPT requested that the Legislature make funds available to reimburse school districts for the costs of transporting pre-kindergarten students to and from pre-K programs. Under current law, districts are technically allowed to provide such transportation, but must do so with no state involvement. Reports from pre-K advocates indicate that transportation is a necessary element in the success of pre-K services, according to NYAPT.
- Allow expenditures for school bus monitors to be eligible for transportation aid reimbursement. NYAPT requested that the Legislature allow the expenses associated with employing school bus monitors or aides to be eligible for transportation aid support. Current law does not provide for such aid to flow for the costs of monitors and aides. NYAPT believes that the state must assist in this expense as districts are considering such monitors for security, bullying prevention, and boarding safety.
- Increase funding for the school bus driver training program to a level of $500,000 and target increase to necessary training. NYAPT is seeking an increase from $400,000 to $500,000 for the school bus driver training program, which has not seen an increase since it was first authorized in 1997. NYAPT believes the increase is important to allow for development of training for drivers in areas such as transporting pre-K students, ensuring security on the school bus, transporting students with special needs, and preventing bullying on the school bus.
- Provide funding for school transportation security measures. NYAPT urged the Legislature to consider an appropriation of funding to allow school bus operators to install security fencing, lighting, surveillance devices, and cameras to help ensure bus security. NYAPT voiced concerns about instances of school bus vandalism and the potential for acts of violence against school buses.
NYAPT seeks legislative support for these investments because they will result in safer and more effective and efficient student transportation, according to the association.
View a copy of the formal NYAPT statement here.
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