SOMERS, N.Y. - A busload of concerned Westchester residents will head to Albany on Wednesday to demand their right to public busing for private school students.
The group is acting in response to a paper released by the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents suggesting that private school busing be financed by the state rather than by local school districts. Alternatively, it suggests that school districts reduce the private busing radius from 15 to five miles.
“I’m 110 percent on your side,” Sen. Greg Ball said on Monday night to an audience of about 100 people at Kennedy Catholic High School. “Everyone in Albany seems to have a lobbyist. On this issue you show know that you also have a lobbyist. His name is Greg Ball.”
Kennedy Principal Rev. Mark Vaillancourt said schools are trying to cut costs but busing should not be compromised.
“Our parents, who have a vested interest in parochial and private schools, have a right to the mandated busing limit of 15 miles,” he said. “We have 18 districts, 575 students, close to 400 are a part of that busing community. It’s very clear that this is something that threatens our institution. Our students are bused here from all over."
Yorktown Council member Terrence Murphy told the audience of Catholic school parents that he needs their help.
“If this goes through it could close our schools. We need everyone to gather together to make sure our New York State legislators hear our voice," he said. "They want to take the 15-mile radius down to five miles? I’d like to open it up to 25 or 30 miles. We are closing half the schools around this state. We need to keep our schools open.”
A petition has already been circulated and has garnered over 1,000 signatures. Click here to sign the petition.
The Wednesday busload will meet with Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos, members of the Unfunded Mandate Relief Council and individual key senators.
“I’m hoping to get at least 50 people on the bus,” said Vaillancourt. “We’ll gather around 8 a.m. in front of Kennedy. We’ll spend about three hours lobbying before we return home. And I’ll feed you. Please come. Please help me fill that bus.”