The New York Daily News reports:
Language tucked into the tentative state budget could mean a more convenient bus ride home for yeshiva students, but leave taxpayers with a hefty bill.
State legislators have proposed expanding bus service to private school students who attend late afternoon classes. Nearly all of these students are in yeshivas.
Current regulations require busing students who attend classes until 5 p.m. to a stop within a quarter-mile of their homes.
But the new language will require the buses to drop these students off no more than 600 feet from their homes. And students would only have to attend classes until 4 p.m. to be eligible.
The move spurred outrage from the Bloomberg administration Monday.
“At a time when the city is being forced to do more with less, it is outrageous that the state would create a new unfunded mandate that will benefit a politically powerful special interest group,” said Bloomberg spokesman Mark Botnick.
City officials have argued the new requirements will require twice as many stops as before and likely prompt parents of students at charter schools and other private schools to clamor for equal treatment.
Critics are calling the new requirements a political giveaway to the Orthodox Jewish community. It was pushed by Senate Republicans and their renegade Democratic ally state Sen. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn.…
Two weeks ago, the Daily News broke the story of the push for expanded busing. NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo – long in the pocket of Satmar – reportedly promised New York City that the provision for the expanded busing would not be included in the final budget. And then Cuomo put it in anyway.
Last year the city also objected when the Senate's Republicans pushed to require city bus service for students attending all private schools that offer classes until at least 5 p.m. daily. But the Republicans did not listen to the city's objections – after all, it was an election yeaers and Satmar and other hasidic and haredi groups do bloc vote – and they passed the requirement into law.
Thirty private schools signed up for the new busing perk. One was a public charter school. The other 29 were yeshivas.
The extra buses cost New York City $3 million.
[Hat Tip: Burich.]