Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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School Bus Service Cut To Thousands Of Staten Island Students

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TWC News: School Bus Service Cut To Thousands Of Staten Island Students
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Some Staten Island students will need to find another way to get to school when classes start next week.

The state Supreme Court has lifted a temporary restraining order that forced the Department of Education to keep providing bus service to thousands of seventh and eighth graders.

In May, DOE officials announced they would eliminate yellow bus lines for about 4,600 students citywide, most from Staten Island, to save an estimated $1.6 million.

The department normally provides bus service to students only through sixth grade. But service to older students had been in place thanks to a variance in city law that provided busing to students who are not near public transportation.

The city Law Department released the following statement in response to today's ruling: "We feel the court made the correct legal decision."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg also approved the move, saying today, "We just can't do as much as we did before. It's a just fact of life."

However, Staten Island Councilman Vincent Ignizio and local parents told reporters today that the borough has limited mass transit options but many roads with thick traffic and no sidewalks or crosswalks. They say it would be dangerous for children to walk along those streets.

"If one of these kids gets hurt on these routes to school, think about the lawsuit that is opened up for the city. And think about what that is going to cost, let alone the human cost," said Ignizio.

"They literally will be walking in the street to school every morning," said parent Christina Inserra.

"I don't know my way around the streets, so I'm worried if I get lost I may end up in a different town and not know my way back home," said seventh-grader Erica Ruggiero.

In particular, parents said a stretch of Arthur Kill Road would be hazardous for school children to walk on, as it has no sidewalks, a heavy amount of traffic and unsafe bus stops.

"Her route would have to be down Arthur Kill Road, down Bloomingdale Road, through the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility -- completely industrial, non-residential area," said parent Jen McVey.

DOE officials say parents can still plead their individual cases to the city to get busing.

Parents and students will have their say in court on September 13.

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