U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, chair of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, Monday called on the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to reimburse over a dozen LI school districts for costs to transport displaced students in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
According to the McKinney Vento Assistance Act, school districts must provide transportation to homeless or displaced students within a fifty mile radius of their district. But the cost of complying with the law is eating away at district budgets—combined, they have spent over $1 million to provide for the transportation needs of displaced students.
Schumer, who wants to ensure that the financial burden does not fall on taxpayers, is calling on the federal government to find a way to help reimburse the districts that have been providing ongoing transportation services to the approximately 1,000 students displaced by the storm.
“It's important for students to get back to their schools, teachers and friends as soon as possible after a major disruption like Sandy; but local school districts shouldn't be left responsible for the costs of a national disaster,” said Schumer.
“Congress passed legislation to reduce the impact of Sandy on local governments, and it makes perfect sense for some of the relief dollars to go to school districts to help them transport students affected by the storm. Otherwise the cost, which may be in the multi-millions, will be borne entirely by local taxpayers, and could impact the education of every child in the affected districts,” Schumer continued.
Schumer, who acknowledges that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is unable to reimburse school districts for this expense, is asking the Housing Department to identify assistance opportunities and to rapidly reimburse the school districts.
To date, the district-by-district costs breakdown is as follows:
The Lindenhurst School District had more than 160 displaced students immediately following the storm and has spent $200,000 to date on transportation services.
The Long Beach School District has spent approximately $75,000 per month for the over 150 students displaced by the storm; and although the number of displaced students has decreased, the district is still spending approximately $20,000 per month and has spent $170,000 to date.
The Island Park School District has spent $120,000 to date and is currently spending $30,000 per month for 50 displaced students.
The Freeport School District had 250 displaced students and is pending $15,000 per month on transportation services. The district has spent $210,000 to date.
The Baldwin School District had 230 displaced students immediately following Sandy and has spent $200,000 on transportation services to date. The district still has approximately 150 displaced students.
The Seaford School District has spent $130,000 to date and is currently spending $26,000 per month for 50 students.
The Copiague School District has spent $220,000 to date for 281 displaced students and is currently spending $20,000 per month for 64 students.
The East Rockaway School District has spent over $71,000 and is currently transporting 485 displaced students.
The Oceanside School District had 766 displaced students immediately following Sandy, and officials anticipate that transportation costs through June 30, 2013 will total $45,265. The district currently has 201 displaced students.
The Lawrence, Amityville and Massapequa school districts were also impacted by the storm, but costs to those districts are not yet available.
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