report that detailed how the approval of a ballot proposition expanding busing for students attending nonpublic schools would put the district's budget over the tax cap, meaning local taxpayers would not receive state rebate checks)(Editor's note: This letter was submitted following a Newsday
On May 20, 2014, the Patchogue-Medford school budget ballot will include Proposition 2 which seeks to increase the mileage for busing for Catholic high school students from 15 to 25 miles.
At the present time, no Catholic high schools fall within the 15 mile limit, forcing parents who choose to educate their children in the faith to not only pay tuition, but also busing, which adds between $2,600-4,000 to the cost of sending their children to a faith based school.
In many cases, parents who would otherwise select a Catholic high school education simply cannot exercise this right because transportation services are unaffordable.
Not only are these parents denied their right to choose a faith based school for their children, ALL taxpayers must then pay more than $21,000, on average, for each child enrolled in a Patchogue-Medford school as compared to the hundreds of dollars it would have cost to provide transportation to a Catholic school.
Please note that if a child attends Catholic school, the district still collects the money, but does not have to use the money to educate that child...a HUGE benefit to the taxpayer.
If these parents cannot send their children to Catholic school, it would force more children into the public schools, which would at the end of the day be much more costly to the taxpayers because they would be shouldering the costs currently covered by Catholic school tuition.
The Patchogue-Medford proposed budget is in excess of $171 million; the proposal to transport 51 children to Catholic high schools is $330,000 (according to district officials). This is only 0.19 percent of the budget!!!
To help parents exercise their right to choose a faith based school and to relieve a significant burden on taxpayers, we urge that the maximum distance the school district be required to transport students is increased from 15 to 25 miles. Most districts, including South Country, presently provide busing to Catholic schools up to 25 miles.
In closing, not only does it make financial sense to ALL taxpayers to vote in favor of busing, it is also about fairness. These Catholic families are taxpayers...by enacting these reforms taxpayers will continue to enjoy significant savings, while parents are provided the means and services that enable them to enroll their children in a faith based high school.
Patchogue Medford Coalition For Non District Students