Published: Thursday, January 20, 2011, 6:55 AM Staten Island Advance
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Saying that the prospects of a current lawsuit to reinstitute yellow school bus service for seventh- and eighth-graders do not look promising, state Sen. Andrew Lanza and Assemblyman Michael Cusick introduced yesterday a bill to bring back buses for Staten Island students.
The Bloomberg administration yanked the buses last year as a cost-cutting measure, infuriating parents and enraging lawmakers here, who took the matter to court.
Nearly 3,000 Staten Island students have been affected by the decision.
The bill, sponsored by Lanza (R-Staten Island) and co-sponsored by Cusick (D-Mid-Island), would require yellow school bus service for Staten Island students in grades three through eight who live more than one mile from school and for children in grades kindergarten through two, along with their siblings in grades three through five who attend the same school, and live more than one-half mile from school.
"The city's ill-conceived decision to cut bus service to seventh- and eighth-grade students unfairly targeted and endangered thousands of Staten Island students," said Lanza. "Our children live farther away from school, on average, than any other children in New York City. Staten Island also has fewer public transportation options, sidewalks and traffic signals, leaving our children at greater risk in the absence of bus service. The small savings the city estimated by its action to cut service has not materialized and has always been outweighed by the safety of our children."
"The safety of our children is our highest priority, and enacting this piece of legislation would ensure that young students are safely taken to and from school," said Cusick. "Staten Island is unique to other parts of New York City in our lack of public transportation options for our students, making this legislation a necessity."
"Education policy is set by the state," noted Lanza. "I want to, in effect, overrule the mayor. New York City has to comply with New York state education policies. It doesn't make any sense, or save any money, and it inconveniences our families."
The lawsuit has been sitting in the state Appellate Division since last fall.