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Advocacy - Doing our Part to Keep our Children Safe
NYAPT has engaged in advocacy for student and school bus safety for many years. We are proud of our impact on many key laws and regulations that govern our school transportation in New York. We believe our efforts help to keep our children and our school bus fleets safe and secure.
As professionals, we accept the responsibility for advocating before and educating public officials objectively and honestly about the needs of school transportation. We take our role as advocates very seriously. The safety and lives of our children are at stake. We are grateful for the work of our Legislative Committee and the Board of Directors in developing our public advocacy positions.
We are aware of the need to identify and execute measures that will make our operations ever more efficient without compromising safety. Accordingly, our advocacy efforts include recommendations that enhance performance, accountability and efficiency .
Below are current articles of legislative activity, followed by key documents that reflect our positions on key issues and key source documents for our members to use. These documents begin with our overall Legislative Agenda, which frames our efforts in the coming year.
APPORTIONMENT OF STATE AID FOR COVID-19 CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS
This bill was signed by Governor Cuomo on Wednesday June 17, 2020.
BILL NUMBER: S7996b
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF THE BILL:
Provides that school districts are entitled to an apportionment of state aid for the closure of schools in response to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 for the 2019-20 school year.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section one of the bill amends Subdivision 7 of section 3604 of the education law, as amended by chapter 605 of the laws of 2019, as it relates to providing school districts an apportionment of state aid for the closure of schools in response to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Section two of the bill sets the effective date.
Read the bill in its entirety here: Bill Number S7996b
OPPOSITION LETTER TO S.7278 by Senator Ritchie
NYAPT has issued an opposition letter to a bill (S.7278 by Senator Ritchie) that would require school districts to provide driver record information to parents. A copy of that letter is linked below.
INSTALLATION OF LAP/SHOULDER BELTS STATEMENT
On January 20, 2019, NYAPT adopted a statement calling for the installation of lap/shoulder belts in buses manufactured on or after September 1, 2022. At the NYAPT June 2020 Board meeting, the NYAPT Board approved an amendment to the NYAPT statement on three-point lap shoulder belts for New York school buses, amending the implementation date to September 1, 2025.
Read the full statement here: NYAPT Seat Belt Statement 652020.pdf
GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
This year has seen the appointment of new chairs and ranking members for each of the major committees with which we interact on a regular basis. See the links below to read brief biographies and backgrounds on these chairs and ranking minority members.
Senator Timothy Kennedy, Chair, Senate Transportation Committee
Senator Joseph Robach, Ranking Minority, Senate Transportation Committee
Senator Shelley Mayer, Chair, Senate Education Committee
Senator Betty Little, Ranking Minority, Senate Education Committee
Assemblyman William Magnarelli, Chair, Assembly Transportation Committee
Assemblyman David McDonough, Ranking Minority, Assembly Transportation Committee
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Chair, Assembly Education Committee
Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, Ranking Minority, Assembly Education Committee
The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) will advocate for the following school transportation priorities before the Governor, the State Legislature, and the Board of Regents, for consideration and action in the 2019-2020 State Budget:
NYAPT urges that the State continue the current ‘expense-based’ approach to school transportation aid in the absence of any viable alternatives at this time. Under this funding approach, the State reimburses districts for the costs of transportation at levels between 6.5% and 90% of the actual costs, depending upon the wealth factors of the district. In recent years, school districts have taken significant steps to become even more efficient and the expense-based approach is working as it was intended. We would urge the continuation of ‘expense-based’ aid for school transportation which recognizes the volatility of transportation costs to districts and taxpayers.
Provide Funding in Support of Transportation Services for Universal Pre-Kindergarten Students
NYAPT strongly recommends that funds be appropriated in the State budget to support the delivery of transportation services for students enrolled in Universal Pre-Kindergarten programs. It has been several years since, the State enacted Chapter 244 of the Laws of 2012 that allows school districts to provide “Pre-K” transportation, but places the burden for paying for that transportation entirely on the school districts. These many years later, this needs to be corrected. This can be accomplished simply by including transportation of Pre-Kindergarten students as eligible costs.
In addition to the provision of funding, we would recommend that the State engage in a thorough discussion about the issues related to safely and efficiently transporting children to the Pre-K programs. It is important that guidelines be formulated to ensure the safety of these younger students and to ensure the capacity of our school districts and transportation providers to transport them safely and within budget realities. These include issues and topics such as the need for attendants, parent engagement, special equipment, seat belts, driver training and others. NYAPT has adopted a policy paper on this subject and we are available to discuss its contents as needed.
Allow Expenditures for School Bus Monitors to Be Eligible for Transportation Aid Reimbursement
NYAPT recommends that the State allow Transportation Aid reimbursement for costs related to employing School Bus Monitors (aides, matrons) on school buses. The need has increased in reference to managing student behaviors and bullying on school buses. As the State begins to advance early childhood education and expand Pre-Kindergarten programs, there will be an increased need for an additional adult aboard our school buses.
Currently, only the costs for those individuals employed as ‘attendants’ on school buses to assist and support the transportation of students with disabilities (pursuant to an IEP) are eligible for Transportation Aid reimbursement. It is time to include monitors in the Transportation Aid eligibility category as well.
Provide Funding for the School Bus Driver Training Program at $400,000 annually
NYAPT has since 1997 supported the appropriation of funds in the Education Department budget for support of the Comprehensive School Bus Driver Training program. This fund has been supported at a level of $400,000 over these past 17 years. NYAPT strongly supports this program. This program provides safety training to the State's 50,000+ school bus drivers. The results of which is a exceptional school bus transportation safety record.
SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION STATE LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES 2019-2020
Criminal Trespass and Security on a School Bus
NYAPT will support legislation that will establish a crime of criminal trespass on a school bus to protect our drivers, our students and our property.
School bus safety extends beyond the usual concepts of driving safely and loading safely. In recent years, we have witnessed numerous incidents of individuals boarding school buses and causing problems including violent acts against students and drivers alike. In one dramatic situation, a school bus driver was shot and killed on the bus while defending his student riders.
In New York, dozens of such situations have been experienced aboard school buses. It is unacceptable that parents or other individuals would take it on themselves to board a bus and attack or verbally abuse a driver entrusted with the safety of the children or even the children riding on the bus. NYAPT believes the same legal protections afforded the school building should apply to the school bus as well.
NYAPT will advocate for passage of related enforcement, operational and education-related legislation that would form a more comprehensive response to the troubling trends of illegal passing:
Support creation of a dedicated education fund utilizing fines from 1174 convictions
Support legislation to establish a crime of vehicular homicide for instances where the death of a child is caused by a motorist while in the act of illegally passing a stopped school bus
Requires Drivers Education course for are convicted multiple times for illegally passing a stopped school bus
Removing or Revising the Divided Highway Elements of Section 1174
Other School Transportation Positions
2020 NYAPT Legislative and Budget Priorities Document
Testimony Provided to Joint Legislative Committee on Education
For additional information contact:
New York Association for Pupil Transportation
Government Affairs Associate
PC Public Affairs
* Safety Issues: NYAPT Policy Papers *
NYAPT's Statement on Seat Belts on School Buses
* State and Federal Regulations *
We are not currently reviewing any key State agency regulations.
We are not currently reviewing any key Federal agency regulations.