Bus Havoc for Students:
Third Track Could Cost Taxpayers $ and Traffic Nightmares
A Gateway research analysis and outreach to local school districts has unveiled an explosive finding that could potentially costs taxpayers money and impact transportation for the students in multiple schools districts and levels.
The Sewanhaka Central High School District, Floral Park-Bellerose Elementary School District and Elmont Union Free School District could see significant impacts as a result of the Third Track project that are so serious that they can not fully analyzed. The findings, as a result of Gateway interviews, School District analysis and interviews with school officials have unveiled poor planning by the MTA/LIRR and planners who are promoting the Third Track Project.
Sewanhaka Central High School District Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie noted in a exclusive interview with the Gateway that, “any road closings are going to have an impact on our schools and students. It’s not rocket science and they know this is of great concern to us. But we have heard nothing and don’t have a plan from them.” According to multiple accountings unveiled in school district meetings held at the Central Offices of the Sewanhaka Central High School District, local Chambers of Commerce and official meetings, MTA/LIRR representatives do not have any plans or relief efforts for local schools and commerce as a result of road closures.
According to accountings to the Gateway, MTA/LIRR and Transportation officials have noted that Tulip Avenue, Covert Avenue and other assorted roadways in the immediate vicinity of the LIRR station and grade crossings are slated for closure with significant far reaching detours that could send hundreds of cars and pass through traffic through village neighborhoods.
Dr. Ferrie noted, “ the Third Track project could have an impact on busing, on parent transportation and student walkers.” In another shocking finding that Ferrie noted was the fact that any changes to transportation costs to the district would be forced on taxpayers. “We live in the world of the tax cap and with any changes there is a cost. Where is the money going to come from in a tax cap world? We couldn’t budget for these changes because there is no plan for the Third Track. We never knew.”
Floral Park-Bellerose School District Supt Jim Opiekun outlines a serious educational and community impact scenario for students and the Village. “We have added dimensions. We have the S. Tysson construction issues, Koenigs development and the overpass at the LIRR. We are going to be paralyzed.
Opiekun noted that the elementary school times are staggered by a half hour as a result of busing. “Once our buses are done dropping off at JLC, they head out to Floral Park-Bellerose. Any delays with construction and we could be backed up a half hour into the school day. It’s a domino effect that has us rightly concerned.”
Elmont School District Supt Al Harper brought a new dimension to the findings unveiling that not only are students who attend the Stewart Manor school from South Floral Park directly impacted, but three bus runs of special education students who attend North Shore Schools are also part of the mix. “We are dealing with a situation where there is no plan and no information.”
Ferrie noted that all school districts are grappling with same costs concerns. “We can’t do an internal analysis on costs because there is no plan. We don’t know what is open and closed. What the routes would or could be. Busing is a very important issue and changes like this for all school district are going to have an impact. The big question is who funds the additional costs? Does the MTA/LIRR realize we live under the rules of the tax cap?”
All officials who have met with the MTA/LIRR tell similar stories of inquiries and questions not being answered by officials. When asked if the Elmont School District has received information from the MTA /LIRR on their concerns, Elmont Supt Al Harper answered, “we have no clue and they have given us no clue.” Dr. Ferrie answered adding, “We have no answers.” Floral Park Bellerose School District Supt Jim Opiekun said, “nobody is telling us what’s going to happen.”