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Opinion

June 5, 2013

Budget defeat signals schools' troubles

The Daily Star’s report, “One local school budget defeated” is another reminder of the difficulties facing school districts, taxpayers, and the state today — trying to balance tax increases and staffing cuts, while providing a quality education for our children.

There are still some money-saving options to be considered, though; proposals that do not sacrifice children’s education or safety. Specifically, a pair of legislative solutions supported by the New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) could save approximately 20 percent or more in annual transportation costs — savings that could be used to prevent school closings, teacher layoffs, program cuts and more.

The largest potential savings, detailed in Senate Bill 4961, allow 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 across the state have already reduced transportation costs an estimated $200 million a year just by making that switch, yet many, including Middleburgh, Unadilla and Cobleskill-Richmondville, continue to provide their own busing at a greater expense.

Another proposal (S.1999, A.1019) 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. This repeal would also apply to parts, maintenance and fuel. Find out more at www.nysbca.com.

Both measures can bring much-needed fiscal relief to schools, our state and taxpayers, while still providing New Yorkers with the safest and most reliable pupil transportation services in the country.

Phil Vallone

Roscoe

Vallone is president of the New York School Bus Contractors Association.

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