ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Typically, students who live within 1.5 miles of school are not offered transportation by their school district. Instead, many have to walk—some of them in areas with high crime rates and vacant buildings. In an effort to make sure students are safe and are getting to school on time, a new law will reimburse school districts for transportation costs in areas deemed child safety zones.
“Students have to be in school to learn,” said Kaweeda G. Adams, Albany City School District Superintendent. “And so we do have some concerns in regard to chronic absenteeism. We look to combat that in anyway that we can and we know that this could be one of the ways we could do that.”
Albany already has one child safety zone in the area of where Route 9 meets 787, but now the district is hoping that this area near North Pearl will become a child safety zone as well.
“So the school district must apply — justify — why they need this for child safety,” explained Assemblywoman Pat Fahy. “And now there is a broader definition, we really hope this is going to help a number of school districts and make children and their families feel safer.”
When it comes to transportation reimbursement, Albany’s superintendent said it’s about 79 or 80 cents on the dollar. She adds that the shortage of bus drivers could play a role in implementing more zones.
“We think it will absolutely be a component, but it also depends on routing and scheduling because it may be the increase of routes, it may be the lengthening of routes. We may need additional drivers, we may need additional buses, so all of that would have to be reviewed as well,” said Adams.
Ultimately, school districts will have to vote on this as part of their annual budget.