NYAPT  Transportation Education

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ADVOCACY

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 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.


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

https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/timothy-m-kennedy/about

Senator Joseph Robach, Ranking Minority, Senate Transportation Committee

https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/joseph-e-robach/about

Senator Shelley Mayer, Chair, Senate Education Committee

https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/shelley-b-mayer/about

Senator Betty Little, Ranking Minority, Senate Education Committee

https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/betty-little/about

Assemblyman William Magnarelli, Chair, Assembly Transportation Committee

https://nyassembly.gov/mem/William-B-Magnarelli/bio/

Assemblyman David McDonough, Ranking Minority, Assembly Transportation Committee

https://nyassembly.gov/mem/David-G-McDonough/bio/

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Chair, Assembly Education Committee

https://nyassembly.gov/mem/Michael-Benedetto/bio/

Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, Ranking Minority, Assembly Education Committee

https://nyassembly.gov/mem/Mary-Beth-Walsh/bio/




BUDGET PRIORITIES
LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES


SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION STATE BUDGET PRIORITIES  2019-2020

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:

NARRATIVES:

Continue to Provide Sufficient Funding for School Transportation

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 continuat
ion 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 categor
y as well.


Increase Funding for the School Bus Driver Training Program to a Level of $500,000 for and Target Increase to Necessary Training

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.  We are recommending an increase of $100,000 to that training fund which represents the first increase since its inception in 1997.  We also believe it is important that the SED take specific steps to advance sound training programs through those funds. Accordingly, we are recommending that the additional funds focus on the following training needs areas:
1)    training related to safely transporting students enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten programs. As we have discussed earlier in this agenda, there is a need for training of drivers and monitors as we see an increase in younger students on school buses;
2)    training related to bullying prevention and response, consistent with Dignity Act requirements and best practices. NYAPT believes that school bus drivers and monitors must receive more extensive training in this area to ensure a positive and non-threatening climate on their school buses for all children;
3)    training for drivers in security measures that will help them to protect the integrity of their bus, their riders and themselves in violent incidents.  There have been incidents on school buses of violent intruders and school bus drivers are not prepared adequately to respond and keep our children safe; and
4)    training related to special education classifications enumerated in the federal IDEA, and as required under “PJ’s Law.”  For our children, this is an especially important area of need.


Provide Funding for School Transportation Security Measures


NYAPT strongly urges the State to appropriate or set aside funds in the State budget to ensure the security of school buses and transportation facilities in our schools.  Such funding would provide incentives for school districts and school bus operators to invest in perimeter fencing, security lighting and security/surveillance camera systems to enhance security for their school bus fleets and infrastructure. 

 Recent incidents of vandalism against school buses (e.g., damage to tires, theft of batteries and copper wiring, assaults on bus drivers and children) raise concerns about security of our school buses and facilities, as well as the potential for additional acts of violence or vandalism against those vehicles and individuals.  


Allow Expenditures for Transportation to Extra-Curricular and Inter-Scholastic Athletic Activities to be Eligible for Transportation Aid Reimbursement

A crucial part of every student’s educational progress is their exposure to non-academic activities and opportunities to learn in the world around them and to learn team-building and socialization skills among other students. As the State reinforces the need for social and emotional development among our students, there has been an increased focus placed on non-classroom activities for those students.

Transportation services are often required to allow students to avail themselves of those opportunities and activities. Those transportation costs are not currently eligible for reimbursement under Transportation Aid under current law.  NYAPT would argue that such costs should be aid-eligible given that they are determined to be a part of the educational experience for these students
.


Provide an Exception to the 2% Growth Cap for Unanticipated and Mandated Costs of Transportation

There are numerous and varied reasons for fluctuations and increases in the costs incurred in providing transportation services in our schools.  Unexpected costs are incurred when students with disabilities transfer into a school district mid-year or when an influx of homeless or foster care students are enrolled in a school and require transportation.  This is just a reality for districts in meeting the needs of their students.

An example: one of our members had six students become homeless after the school year had started.  These students needed transportation including two that went 30 miles in two different directions, requiring small vehicles to provide their transportation.  Those students added over $150,000 to the operating expenses for transportation that were NOT included in the Transportation budget for that year.

NYAPT believes that the state must recognize this volatility and allow for it in managing the execution of the 2% expenditure cap imposed on districts. Accordingly,
we are recommending that all or some percentage of the extraordinary and unexpected costs of transportation be exempted from the 2% cap calculations.
 


SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION STATE LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES  2019-2020




CRIMINAL TRESPASS & SECURITY ON A SCHOOL BUS
SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION MANAGEMENT
MANDATE RELIEF & EFFICIENCY MEASURES


ILLEGAL PASSING

Moreover, 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 increasing fines for illegal passing convictions
 Support creation of a dedicated education fund utilizing fines from 1174 convictions
  Support legislation to establish a crime of vehicular assault for instances where an injury is caused to a child by a motorist while in the act of illegally passing a stopped school bus
  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
  Support legislation to increase the financial penalties on motorists convicted of violating Section 1174 (while using cell phone, if a  CDL holder driving a vehicle of more than 26000 pounds)
  Requires Drivers Education course for are convicted multiple times for illegally passing a stopped school bus
  Prohibiting Stops that Require children to Cross three or more lanes involving two directions of traffic
  Removing or Revising the Divided Highway Elements of Section 1174  

DRIVER READINESS & INTEGRITY
PRIORITY: NYAPT will support legislation that will amend Section 509(cc) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law to update the inventory of disqualifying crimes for school bus drivers to ensure the safety of our children 

NYAPT is dedicated to ensuring the highest level of qualifications for all school bus drivers and in seeking and retaining quality school bus drivers to transport our 2.3 million children.  
 
The most important safety feature on every school bus is the school bus driver.  We have witnessed several serious accidents around the nation in which driver qualifications were questioned and in which decisions by the school bus driver were considered part of the reason or cause for the accident.
 
At the same time, school districts and private contractors are facing the worse shortage of school bus drivers we have witnessed in many years.  This is a situation faced by other elements of the truck and bus industry and needs to be addressed directly but within the confines of safety for our children.  


CRIMINAL TRESPASS & SECURITY ON A SCHOOL BUS
PRIORITY: 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. 
 
PRIORITY: NYAPT will support legislation that allows school buses to be equipped with advisory signage indicating that it is against the law to board the bus without the permission of the school bus driver.  

PRIORITY: NYAPT will support legislation or regulations that ensure that school bus drivers are provided incident management training as well as active shooter training and that such training and preparation are done consistent with school district annual safety plans   

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 there are several steps that must be taken to ensure safety and security on the school bus. 

SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION MANAGEMENT
PRIORITY: NYAPT will support legislation to require certified or qualified transportation professionals in each district.

PRIORITY:  NYAPT will support legislation to create a statewide Civil Service school transportation director title and to establish specifications and qualifications for such positions. 

The responsibilities of keeping our children safe on school buses each day are significant and require qualified managers and administrators at the operator and state agency levels.  Recent school bus-related reports by the State Comptroller and the National Transportation Safety Board as well as recent well-publicized fatal accidents underscore the importance of effective and high quality management and state agency oversight and assurance.

Consistent with this, and cognizant of the evolving issues and increasingly complex environment in which school transportation services are provided, we are committed to ensuring the levels of quality, excellence and efficiency to which our children and taxpayers are entitled.   


MANDATE RELIEF & EFFICIENCY MEASURES 
Moving children from their homes to their school buildings and to other educational services is an expensive proposition.  The cost of school bus transportation is is often increased by state mandates as well as unnecessary restrictions that affect operating efficiency.  NYAPT has for several years advocated for numerous steps that could assist school districts and operators in reducing or controlling costs and we will continue to advocate for these kinds of measures in the coming year.   

These will include:
NYAPT will support legislation to eliminate the mandate for backlit SCHOOL BUS signage on school buses in our state
NYAPT will support legislation that will remove financial penalties for “shared services” among school districts for transportation efficiencies
NYAPT will support legislation that advances the adoption of common annual calendars and flexible bell times to allow for increased efficiency in school transportation.


FINAL STATE BUDGET INFORMATION 2019-2020
* Links to Key Contacts for Advocacy *

New York State Governor

New York State Assembly

New York State Senate

New York State Board of Regents


* Safety Issues: Board Policy Papers *


* State and Federal Regulations *

We are not currently reviewing any key State agency regulations.

We are not currently reviewing any key Federal agency regulations.

 

NYAPT
1764 Route 9
P.O. Box 356
Clifton Park,
NY 12065

518.463.4937

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