To the Editor:
This is in response to the article regarding budget cuts to the high schools (“Major cuts in store for high schools,” Feb. 14-20). I am very upset that one of the proposed items to be cut from the budget is the yellow school bus transportation for 90 students that currently attend Chaminade High School and Sacred Heart Academy.
These types of budget cuts are very short-sighted. Last year, the district cut the school busing to St. Francis Prep and St. Anne’s, and in a previous year, the district cut the late buses. This is a tremendous hardship to working, taxpaying families in Valley Stream and will eventually leave parents without a choice in education that we, as Americans, have come to value.
The district needs to consider the following points when looking for long-term budget solutions:
1) The private-school parents pay their fair share of school taxes and save the taxpayers money. The 90 families that send their children to Chaminade and Sacred Heart save the taxpayers of Valley Stream close to $1.4 million per year (based on the average cost to educate a child in Long Island of $15,000 per year). Does it make sense to cut the one service that these taxpaying families get?
2) If these families decide that public transportation is not safe for their children, and they decide to register all 90 children at their district high school this September, the district could have to hire extra teachers for the extra students. This would cost far more than the $160,000 the district is saving by cutting the school buses.
3) Hurricane Sandy brought to everyone’s attention how much we rely on gasoline and foreign oil. The school districts should be working toward a greener solution to our precarious gas situation. There should be more school buses filled with public and private-school students, not less. We should be discouraging parents from driving their own children to school, for the safety of the children and also for the protection of our environment.
4) The mass transit system on Long Island runs infrequently and covers too large a geographic region. It was not designed for efficient intra-island travel. It was designed to get people to and from Manhattan. My high school son uses the N25 bus when he stays after school for activities. This bus only runs two or three times per hour. He waits alone at a dark, deserted bus stop without a bus shelter, after walking 15 to 20 minutes to get to the stop. Some evenings he has waited more than an hour for the bus, in all kinds of weather. I fear for his safety, and the safety of the other children in Valley Stream.
For Superintendent Dr. Bill Heidenreich to state that the middle school sports program is more important that the safe transportation of our students is outrageous. I strongly suggest that the district and the school board look for other ways to reduce costs in the budget.
I plan on attending the school budget meetings this year, and I encourage all taxpayers to do the same.
Mary Rose Bosko