Somers, N.Y. – (4/18/11) Over 50 members of Senator Ball’s Citizens Advisory Council are traveling to Albany this morning to lobby against a mandate relief item that could lead to the demise of private and parochial schools across the Hudson Valley.
In mid-March, Senator Ball heard personal testimony from concerned constituents regarding the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents position paper, that recommended either state funding of private school, out-of-district transportation, or a reduction of mileage limits from 15 to 5 miles. During the meeting, Senator Ball announced that he would be assembling a Citizen’s Advisory Council on Private and Parochial Schools Busing, chaired by Father Mark Vaillancourt of Kennedy Catholic, and Yorktown Councilman Terrence Murphy.
“The families that choose to send their children to parochial school are still paying school taxes and this busing is one of the few tangible benefits they receive,” Senator Ball said. “If this proposal becomes a reality, the state of New York will once again be unfairly targeting those parents who are merely attempting to provide their children with expanded opportunities and a great education. The assault on our families, Catholic families in particular, must end and common sense must prevail.”
Senator Ball’s Citizen’s Advisory Council (CAC) has already hosted a conference call, attended by over 100 people, as well as gathered 1145 signatures against the proposed mandate relief item.
This morning the CAC met at Kennedy Catholic High School to traveling up to Albany to lobby in support of their freedom of choice when it comes to education.
North Salem Supervisor Warren Lucas who has teamed up with Senator Greg Ball on this issue and was one of the first in line to get on the bus this morning said, “We have a lot of constituents that are paying a fair amount of money in school taxes. This is one of the few things they receive when they choose to send their students to private schools. We are very interested in keeping this 15 mile radius and even extending it to 25 miles.”
The council has a busy morning meeting with key Senators on this issue. The first and second meetings of the morning will take place with Senator Betty Little and Senator Jack Martins who both serve on Governor Cuomo’s Mandate Relief Council. The third meeting today will be with Senator John Flanagan who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education. Then before the day is over the Citizens Advisory Council will be meeting with the Senate Majority Leader, Dean Skelos.
“We obviously need to apply some pressure here. It’s important to show up in numbers and let them know how we feel. I think it would be silly to make this cut, it will end up costing them more money in the long run. Many of us don’t have the ability to drive our children to school. If they no longer provide the busing, we will be sending our children back to public school,” said Pawling resident Gary Comerford. “Senator Ball is leading the charge, I don’t see any other politicians getting involved. It’s a good thing because this is very important, I am happy he is doing it.
Alex Backofen, Sophomore from Katonah that currently attends Fox Lane High School but previously attended Catholic school and plans to go back, joined Senator Ball’s Citizens Advisory Council on the trip up to Albany.
“I think it is very important for the kids that want to attend private or catholic schools. The busing takes a big relief off the parents. I know my mom would drive me, but many students don’t have that option,” Alex Backofen said. “I think it is important to keep the 15 miles, but extending it, man, that would be great!”
“I think it is a fundamental right for the children in private and catholic schools to get safely bussed to school as children do in public schools. Senator Ball has been very impressive in the past two meetings, I appreciate his help,” said Somers resident Vincent Gilmore who has four children in Catholic schools. “Today I want to send a clear message that we won’t sit down and take this.”
Senator Ball, Councilman Murphy, and Father Vaillancourt are calling on concerned residents to sign the CAC’s onlinepetition and to join the council by contacting Krista Gobins at (845) 200-9716, or email@example.com.
For more information or to speak with Senator Ball, please contact Krista Gobins at (845) 200-9716, or firstname.lastname@example.org.