The Department of Education says that it will cut free school bus service to seventh- and eighth-grade students next year.
The move is meant to spare classrooms from the state budget cuts.
The DOE says the state only requires that students be bused through sixth grade.
According to the DOE, a total of 70 schools and about 4,600 students will be affected. Nearly 3,000 of those students live on Staten Island, where for the last 18 years the service has been provided due to the shortage of public transportation in the borough.
However, students will be eligible for free student MetroCards.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has proposed eliminating student MetroCards starting next school year.
“We’re at a time where our budget is significantly down, and we’re trying to protect our students in our schools and teachers as much as we possibly can,” said School Chancellor Joel Klein. “So you can’t cut money from things that don’t take money, and buses are one of those things that take money. So we’re looking at every way to try to save.”
Students who were taking the buses said they were not pleased with the cut routes.
“It’s sad. I feel bad for people who live far,” said one student.
“It’s going to be mad different, probably going to be waking up early. It’s not going to feel right,” said another.
Education officials say some students with hardship may actually still qualify for busing at the Office of Pupil Transportation, based on the nearby availability of public transportation and pedestrian safety in the area.
Schools are expecting a budget cut of $500 million from the state and the potential layoff of more than 4,000 teachers.
DOE officials say the move will save the department $3.4 million.