Action Alert

ISSUE:  Nonpublic school transportation continues to be hampered by a number of problems which emphasize the major difficulties that nonpublic school parents face in attempting to get safe rides to school for their children.  The major budget issue for Governor Christie’s Fiscal Year 2017 on this topic is the failure for the ceiling for nonpublic school transportation to be increased since 2008.  An enclosed Fact Sheet explains the issue in greater detail.

OUR POSITION:   The New Jersey Catholic Conference and the New Jersey Network of Catholic School Supports every attempt to provide equitable transportation services for nonpublic school pupils.  The focused issue in this Alert (and in this Budget cycle for the Governor) is the increase in the ceiling for nonpublic school transportation from $884.00.

ACTION:       Call, write, or email the office of Governor Chris Christie at the address listed below.  Parents should be encouraged to tell their stories in great detail with regard to how their children face greater challenges in getting to school than their neighboring public school children.  We encourage group letter writing sessions in schools and any efforts made to contact members of the Governor’s staff that you may know personally with regard to this effort.  Please note that this initiative is focused strictly on the Governor at this time because the Legislature will not begin developing a Budget until the Governor’s Budget has been presented in late February.

                  Address:    The Honorable Chris Christie

                                    Governor of the State of New Jersey

                                    The State House

                                    P.O. Box 001

                                    Trenton, NJ  08625

                  Phone:       (609) 292-6000

                  Email:        http://www.nj.gov/governor/contact/

Or

You can also contact Governor Christie through the NJCC Voter Voice System

https://votervoice.net/GAC/Admin/Admin.aspx?Screen=NameCampaign&IssueID=43871

 

Nonpublic School Transportation Fact Sheet

Nonpublic school transportation is provided up to a statutory ceiling of $884.00 per student.  Public schools districts will typically use their own vehicles first for public school students, and then, if any vehicles and drivers are available will transport nonpublic school students.  Thus the majority of nonpublic school transportation occurs through private contractors. Public school transportation has no per-pupil ceiling for transportation, although public school transportation costs less because students are generally located within a more concentrated geographical area.  Therefore, the cost of the routes is less than those for nonpublic school students because transportation depends upon the number of miles traveled by the bus and the number of stops.

  • Even though transportation costs should logically decrease because of the dramatic drop in fuel costs, bus owners contend that rising costs for insurance and salaries (many contractors are using unionized workers) are the problem.
  • A significant number of public school transportation coordinators have told our administrators and parents that the ceiling MUST be raised, or our students will not be able to receive transportation.
  • Nonpublic schools have attempted a variety of options in order to maintain transportation within the $884.00 per pupil ceiling.  These include the following:
    • Centralized stops,
    • Changes in arrival and dismissal times in our schools,
    • Having routes bid at fewer than 180 days (i.e. 176, 175) in order to have transportation for student during the majority of days the school is in session.

We have run out of ideas in this regard.  The remaining solution is to raise the per-pupil amount.

  • The transportation statute authorizing the per-pupil amount calls for an annual increase, in direct proportion to the increase in the State transportation aid per pupil in the year prior to the pre-budget year compared to the amount for the pre-budget year or by CPI, whichever is greater (N.J.S.A. 18A: 39-1a).  Both the Corzine Administration and the Christie Administration have frozen this amount, thus ignoring the requirement for any annual increase.
  • It is important for parents to tell their own frustrating stories of what has happened in recent years in their attempts to have their children transported to a nonpublic school.
  • We recognize that some of the problems have been caused by a lack of knowledge/competency on the part of district personnel and a state-wide shortage of drivers and buses.  The New Jersey Catholic Conference and others have been working to deal with some of those issues in a committee within the New Jersey Department of Education.  However, the contrast between transporting public school students (some of them are neighbors of our children) and nonpublic school children needs to be described in real terms and in detail to the Governor.