November 24, 2020-Assemblymember Marianne Buttenschon (D,I-Utica/Rome) announced that she has written a letter urging the Governor to allow school districts to receive transportation aid for expenses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“School districts are already facing pandemic expenses, state aid cuts and the threat of mid-year budget cuts,” Buttenschon said. “These administrators, whose resources are already running thin, shouldn’t also be on the hook for the cost of ensuring our kids are fed and have the necessary materials they need to learn while at home. Without reimbursement, these costs will only further hurt already struggling districts and, ultimately, our students. I reached out to the Governor to help ensure that our children’s education doesn’t suffer during these unprecedented times.”
When schools closed for in-person learning during the height of the pandemic, districts used buses and transportation staff to deliver meals and instructional material to students, as well as serve as Wi-Fi access points. The State Education Department (SED) recently stated that the costs incurred through these measures would not be eligible for transportation aid. In her letter to the Governor, Buttenschon voiced her concerns and urged the department to reconsider.
In addition, Buttenschon co-sponsored a bill that would qualify transporting meals and school material to students during the COVID-19 pandemic for state reimbursement under transportation aid (A.10757). The SED should be doing all it can support school districts, rather than punishing them for coming up with solutions to safely provide students with a quality education and necessary resources during these difficult times, Buttenschon noted.