Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed into law (Chapter 244 of the Laws of 2012) legislation that authorizes school districts to provide transportation services to Universal Pre-Kindergarten students. The legislation was introduced by Senator John Bonacic (S7218A) and Assembly Member Aileen Gunther (A10397A) and passed in both Houses at the end of the session.
NYAPT OPPOSED this legislation in comments to the Legislature and recommended to the Governor that he VETO the bill when it arrived at his desk for action.
The bill—text inserted below—gives school districts the authority to provide transportation to “UPK” students but does not allow districts to receive aid for those services and related costs. It also requires that the “like circumstances” provision of Education Law apply to transporting Pre-K children. There are conditions on the transportation—e.g., the student must be attending a UPK program sponsored by the district and the transportation must be within the mileage limits.
NYAPT opposed the bill because we object to the “non-mandate mandate” inherent in the language. That is to say—districts will be in a predicament of getting parent requests for transportation but knowing that there is no aid to support what could be a significant cost. And we also expressed a concern that this allows the state to avoid the overall issue of not providing transportation and transportation aid for Pre-K programs. Here again, districts will be asked and implored to provide such transportation but there will be no financial assistance from the state. We also noted in our opposition that districts currently are allowed to provide transportation to Pre-K students under limited conditions and that this legislation did not address the real issues of transportation for Pre-K students.
We will provide additional background and discussion of this legislation over the next several weeks. It is immediately effective so we expect further guidance from the State Education Department in preparation for the coming school year.
Here is the language of the new law authorizing school districts to provide transportation for Pre-K children:
1 Section 1. Subdivision 1 of section 3635 of the education law is
2 amended by adding a new paragraph g to read as follows:
3 G. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW TO THE CONTRARY, THE
4 TRUSTEES OR BOARD OF EDUCATION OF ANY SCHOOL DISTRICT MAY, IN ITS
5 DISCRETION, PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION FOR STUDENTS ATTENDING A UNIVERSAL
6 PRE-KINDERGARTEN PROGRAM IN ADDITION TO TRANSPORTATION FUNDED BY SUCH
7 PROGRAM OR TRANSPORTATION FOR STUDENTS ATTENDING ANOTHER DISTRICT SPON-
8 SORED OR DISTRICT-RUN PRE-KINDERGARTEN PROGRAM, WITHIN MILEAGE LIMITS
9 ESTABLISHED BY THE SCHOOL DISTRICT; IF PROVIDED SUCH TRANSPORTATION
10 SHALL BE OFFERED EQUALLY TO ALL CHILDREN IN LIKE CIRCUMSTANCES RESIDING
11 IN THE DISTRICT. THE COST OF PROVIDING SUCH TRANSPORTATION SHALL BE A
12 CHARGE UPON THE DISTRICT AND FOR PURPOSES OF SUBDIVISION SEVEN OF
13 SECTION THIRTY-SIX HUNDRED TWO OF THIS CHAPTER, SUCH PUPILS SHALL BE
14 CONSIDERED NON ALLOWABLE PUPILS AND THE COSTS OF THEIR TRANSPORTATION
15 SHALL NOT BE AIDABLE.
16 S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.