The OBSERVER's editorial "Schools: Clarence plan worth watching" (May 30) is yet another reminder of the angst surrounding school budget votes - balancing tax increases with staffing and program cuts, while trying to provide a quality education for our children.
There are other options though, money-saving steps that don't sacrifice children's education or safety. These 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, in Senate Bill 4961, 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 across the state have reduced transportation costs an estimated $200 million a year just by making that switch, yet many, including Clarence, still 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; in other words, a real "tax free zone" in every school district. Find out more at www.nysbca.com.
Both measures will bring 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 is president of the New York School Bus Contractors Association.