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Tarrytown Schools Examine Transportation Costs

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – School districts are always looking for ways to save money. This year at the Union Free School District of the Tarrytowns, the board of education is looking for potential cuts or consolidation plans for its transportation services.

The school district reports that it busses kids to 57 private and out-of-district schools each school day, as it is required to do by state law. That number includes special education students.

In an effort to save money, the district is considering whether it should provide transportation to schools out-of-district when Tarrytown schools are not in session. According to Superintendent Howard Smith during a recent board of education meeting, it has been a longstanding tradition to provide transportation when the district’s schools are not in session, although it is not required under state law.

Some local schools began classes earlier than the Tarrytown school district this year. Smith said the district decided not to provide transportation to out-of-district schools during that time to see what the cost savings would be. He said those numbers will be provided at a future board of education meeting.

The Tarrytowns Union Free School District has already cut its number of buses after it decided in the spring to increase the walking radius to schools. In a decision that has already caused concerns among parents, the district cut the buses that serve Washington Irving Intermediate School from seven to six.

Some school board members, like Sheila Conklin, were concerned by the number of out-of-district school buses provided. Conklin said she was sympathetic to parents who couldn't provide transportation to school because of work schedules.

“If we can't bus our own kids to schools in the district, I think we need to look at providing anything above and beyond,” she said.

Statistics provided by Smith show that 1,121 students are assigned to buses within the district.

“Overall, we're serving fewer students because of the change in the mileage, but not as fewer as you might think because of the overall increase in enrollment,” Smith said, adding that the district would look into the possibility of consolidating bus routes with other school districts.

He noted that the Ardsley Union Free School District is “doing some really great work” and that last year the school district put together a master database of all the runs that local schools are doing to see whether there were possible overlaps.

He said 85 percent of elementary school buses are assigned and 90 percent of those are filled. For secondary school buses, 100 percent are both assigned and filled. Students at both the elementary and secondary level spend an average of 24 minutes on the bus, with some spending as high as 30 minutes. But Smith recognized that some kids already spend an hour on the bus to get to and from school and that consolidation may make transportation times even longer.

“It may be more efficient for the two school districts, but now the kids are on the bus for an hour and 20 minutes.”

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