2010-06-11 / Front Page

Scholars’ Students May Have To Hit The Road

By Howard Schwach
Seventh and eighth grade students who plan to attend Scholars’ Academy in September may have to opt for a school closer to home or find a new means of transportation to get to the Rockaway school under a rule that makes them ineligible for yellow school bus service.

While the rule is that students who live less than one mile or more than five miles from a school are not eligible for yellow school bus service, in the past the Department of Education issued schoolwide waivers of the rule to allow the students at magnet schools such as Scholars’ to get free transportation.

Now, however, under a budget crunch that restricts the money spent on bus transportation, the city has done away with school-wide waivers. Parents, however, may apply for individual waivers for their students by downloading an application from the DOE’s website (schools.nyc.gov/school portals/27/Q323/default.htm) or by calling 311.

DOE officials, however, declined to comment on whether those individual waivers would be issued as a matter-of-course.

While many families in Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven have received letters accepting their students, they face the problem of finding transportation to and from the school each day.

DOE spokesperson Margie Feinberg told The Wave that the original plan was to provide those students with free MetroCards.

Under the budget constraints, however, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) plans to do away with the free rides.

“We’re all waiting for the MTA to decide about the free MetroCards,” Feinberg said. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen.”

Several transportation alternatives are available for students coming to Rockaway from the mainland to the Beach 104 Street school.

They can take the A Train or one of several bus lines: the Q22, Q21 or Q53.

Administrators at the school, however, have argued that there is a hazardous traffic condition near the school at Beach 104 Street and the Freeway, which students must cross to get from the bus or subway to the school.

One Rockaway parent whose child goes to the school, said that she feared that the busing problem would impact the school’s academic standing.

“Many of the kids who come to the school from the rest of the district are really bright and belong in the school,” she said, asking for anonymity. “If those kids choose not to come to Rockaway because of the transportation, the school might have to take some Rockaway kids who are not as bright and who are not qualified for the school in the first place. That would be a shame.”

The school will serve grades 6 to 11 next year. School officials declined to comment for this story.

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