ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) is calling on the state Legislature to ensure full funding for transportation aid, among other school bus-related recommendations.

NYAPT Executive Director Peter Mannella last week presented testimony before the New York State Senate Finance Committee and the State Assembly Ways and Means Committee regarding elements of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2015-16 executive budget proposal. The statement focused on aspects of the proposal that affect school bus safety.

In the statement, NYAPT offered nine key recommendations, including:

• Urging the Legislature to ensure that transportation aid is fully funded in the adopted budget. Transportation aid is an expense-based aid, which means it is reimbursed each year, and NYAPT is seeking to ensure that there are sufficient funds to cover the costs incurred last year.

• Supporting the proposal in the governor’s budget that would allow school districts to continue to lease school buses. NYAPT further recommended that such authority be made permanent law.

• Supporting the proposal in the governor’s budget that continues a $400,000 appropriation for the school bus driver training program. NYAPT further called for a $100,000 increase in that program for four targeted training areas: transporting students with disabilities in accordance with PJ’s Law; transporting pre-kindergarten students; bullying prevention and response; and prevention and response to violent incidents on school buses.

• Recommending that short-term funding be made available for security fencing, lighting and surveillance equipment to protect school buses that are not otherwise secured.

• Recommending that the purchase and operation of school bus GPS and telematics systems be eligible for transportation aid.

NYAPT also joined other education groups in calling for full restoration of the funding that was taken away from school districts under the gap elimination adjustment. NYAPT noted that those cuts had been felt in school transportation in ways that compromise safety, such as requiring students to walk longer distances to their bus stops, curtailing transportation for activity trips, and extending the operating life of school buses rather than purchasing newer buses.

For more information about the NYAPT statement, call the association’s office at (518) 463-4937 or email Mannella.

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