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Proposed Bus Route Changes Draw Ire of Larchmont Parents

MAMARONECK, N.Y. – A room full of angry parents voiced their displeasure over the idea of shifting private and parochial school bus routes for grades six through 12 to public transportation at Tuesday night's Mamaroneck Board of Education study session.

Richard Graham, one of more than a dozen local residents to address the issue, has a daughter who attends the German School in White Plains, which is one of six the district’s administration recommended the board review for this shift.

"The projected savings look dramatic, but doesn't make a lot of sense to me," said Graham, who lives in Mamaroneck's Harbor Heights.

Like Graham, most of the speakers argued that, while they pay the same taxes as everyone else, they use none of the school's services, except the district buses, and shouldn't be singled out.

Under this recommendation, which the board did not vote on, students from four of the schools, including the German School, would be offered $50 monthly vouchers for the Bee-Line Bus. Students from the other two schools – Rye Country Day School and The School of the Holy Child – would be offered $40 monthly vouchers toward a Metro-North train commute.

The other schools include The Ursuline School in New Rochelle, the French American School in Mamaroneck and Iona Prep in New Rochelle.

The total cost to the school district under this plan would be $48,840, compared to the $198,405.22 it would currently cost to provide district transportation. The projected savings, the administration said, would be approximately $149,565.22. The numbers were determined under the assumption that every family requests a voucher if this recommendation went into effect.

Several other residents said they didn't think the savings would be worth the cost, which resident Michael Baron said would be the safety of their children.

"I couldn't imagine the thought of a sixth-grader waiting in the dark during winter for a bus transfer," he said.

Baron, among others, said they wouldn't put their child on public transportation and would find another way of getting them to school.

The administration, which had a study done on the feasibility of such an action in 2010, said it considered several factors in its recommendation, including travel time, distance from a student's home to a pick up and drop off point, the presence of sidewalks in those areas, among others.

While residents lined up to tell the board they didn't think the savings weren't substantial relative to the district's total budget, Trustee Linnet Tse tried to provide some perspective on the challenge the board faces.

"Although $150,000 seems like pennies to many of you relative to the size of the budget, when you look at the tax cap, which is just over $2 million that we can increase a year, $150,000 is more than 6 to 7 percent of that allowable increase," Tse said. "We are looking at every possibility right now."

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