Bus drivers say new bills could help PCS finances
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 1:23 pm

To the Editor:

Recent reports by North Country Now’s Jimmy Lawton, including “Massena Students Circulating Petition To Restore Alternative Education Program” and “Potsdam Central Plans To Cut Music Position To Half-time Draws Outcry,” are both painful reminders of the difficulties facing our schools today – taxes are still increasing and school districts still have to make increasingly more difficult financial choices.

There’s good news though; money-saving solutions that do not sacrifice children’s education or safety. The New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) has put forth legislative solutions that could save approximately 20-percent or more in annual transportation costs – savings that could be used to prevent school closings, teacher lay-offs (including music), program cuts (Delta School of Change), and more.

The largest potential savings, in Senate Bill S.2607-C, allows districts that switch to a private school bus operator to keep unused transportation aid for up to five years for whatever important educational needs they have. School districts need every bit of support they can get in exploring this option, and, if they make a change, it’s a great help by allowing them to keep that difference in savings. It’s also an instant savings for the State of New York.

School districts across the state have been able to reduce transportation costs an estimated $200 million a year just by making that switch, yet many, including both Massena and Potsdam, still continue to provide their own busing at a greater expense.

Another proposal put forth by the NYSBCA (S.1999) calls for the elimination of sales taxes on school buses; taxes that are being indirectly paid by school districts and state government through the reimbursement of transportation contracts. The repeal would also apply to parts, maintenance, and fuel. Find out more at www.nysbca.com.

Both measures are effective, common sense ideas, bringing much-needed fiscal relief to schools, our state, and tax-payers, while still providing New Yorkers with the safest and most reliable pupil transportation services in the country.

Phil Vallone, President New York School Bus Contractors Association