SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – Officials at the Union Free School District of the Tarrytowns had hoped to find ways to share the cost of transportation with other school districts but found most were hampered by how they operated or by restrictive contract language.
“We've narrowed it down to one district that's worth pursing in greater detail,” Superintendent Howard Smith said during a recent Board of Education meeting.
School officials identified five districts for potential transportation partnerships. Smith said only the Pocantico Hills Central School District could work because three other districts contracted their transportation services out and one district had restrictive labor contract language.
The Tarrytowns School District currently buses 238 students to special education and private schools to more than 40 locations at a cost of $700,000. Smith said $260,000 is offset by state aid.
Travel times to these other schools range from 15 to 76 minutes. Smith said officials could increase bus and van capacity when going to out-of-district locations, but that might mean some kids would be riding the bus for two hours to get to school every day.
“The question becomes 'How long do you put a kid on the bus?'” Smith said.
School officials throughout Westchester have noted they usually run buses through other school districts, Smith said, and there's an idea that districts could save money by coordinating bus runs.
School Board Member Craig Laub noted that the district isn't required to provide transportation, except for special education students. He also noted other districts provide Bee-Line bus passes for students.
Smith said some schools were able to go without transportation because of their geography, but it wasn't possible in Tarrytown. Rye Neck, he noted, had been looking at bus passes.
The Tarrytowns School District has already implemented several cost savings, Smith said, including going from two runs in the morning to three and putting schools on different schedules so that buses could transport more students. The district has also increased the walking distances at two schools.
“It is already pretty cost effective,” he said.