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Should Public School Districts Pay for Private School Busing?

The state requires public school districts to pay the transportation costs for students attending private and parochial schools.

New Jersey public school districts have been paying to bus parochial and private school students for years.

News reports put the annual cost at $77 million a year for about 90,000 students of religious and other private schools, money that comes out of local budgets funded by property taxes.

According to The Asbury Park Press, districts are required "to spend up to $884 on transportation for each student attending a private school, be it on a school bus or a parent driving the child to class." The state is one of only a handful that pay for private-school busing, with 34 banning all public funding for private schooling.

Patch wants to know what you think. Respond to our poll and offer your thoughts in the comment section below.

For a closer look at South Orange - Maplewood's transportation costs, click

Catholic School Mom May 18, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Hedley, Sophie (and all others of the similar mindset)... the public school system does not pay for busing my child to parochial school. My TAXES do!! Why is that so hard to understand?
Hedley May 18, 2012 at 03:04 PM
What came first the chicken or the egg? Did anyone move into a town that didn't have a school system and was there to start one from scratch on the back of their high taxes? No, of course not. You moved where you moved already knowing the reputation of the school system and had a good idea of the taxes you would be paying relative to other communities. So nice try yourself.
Catholic School Mom May 18, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Absolutely, Joan!
Hedley May 18, 2012 at 03:04 PM
It is the public school system that is cutting the check.
Catholic School Mom May 18, 2012 at 03:09 PM
But the tax-paying parents provide the funds that enable the public school system to write those checks. Something to ponder.... Have a great day!!
DVG May 18, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Private and parochial school families pay the same taxes you do, Hedley, and it is commonly known the majority of tax dollars go to the public school system, hence we should receive SOME benefit from those tax dollars paid. Busing is a mere drop in the bucket If on the other hand we were given some sort of credit towards our choice of education, you would have arguement. And I suppose senior citizens with empty nests are supposed to bankroll your kids as well?
Sophie May 18, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Hedley -- If we are talking chicken and egg here, then Catholic School Mom has a point. After all, without the tax dollars, the public schools wouldn't even have the money in their coffers to even cut the check. So the chicken (or the egg) really starts with Catholic School Mom paying her taxes.
Peter Vescera May 19, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Parents of private school children pay taxes for the public schools with no rebates. This poll is pointless. However; I will gladly pay for my own child's busing if you refund the portion of my tax that pays for public schools. Let's have a poll on that Hank!
Mark Mansfield May 19, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Spot on Peter! Where do I sign this petition?
Mark Mansfield May 19, 2012 at 01:40 AM
The thought of revoking this service is selfish, unjust, greedy and downright unneighborly. Shame on the miserable souls who believe this to be fair. This valuable service is a right, not to be reserved only for those children who are privileged by attending our public schools.
Hedley May 19, 2012 at 04:01 AM
That's fine. But first please refund the portion of my taxes that goes to the fire department as I had no need for them this year.
CKW May 19, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Amen! And yet when all children were receiving the statewide flu vaccination a year+ back, the NBC School District refused and when a bunch of us Catholic and private school parents went to the school board to fight it, an ignorant school boarch member had the nerve to ask why the school should pay for our children's vaccination? Meanwhile the districts where both my child (grammar and high school levels) schools reside vaccinated my children. Not my own district where I pay over $10K in taxes - the largest chunk to school taxes. Right on Sarah - with the proposal to pay for the transportation portion of the school taxes and return to us the portion of school taxes we do not use!
CKW May 19, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I'm sorry to hear that, but the law states "..provide busing or provide payment in lieu of transportation. " I realize some parents desire the check, but some parents desire the bus. Either way, taxes pay for this and we are entitled to it.
CKW May 19, 2012 at 01:17 PM
To equate school taxes to municipal taxes for fire, police and emergency services is just ignorant. God forbid Hedley be given the right to elect out of these emergency services and his/her family/property need them. To bus or provide payment in lieu of transportation is peanuts compared to the thousands and thousands of dollars school districts save in not having to educate my children.
Hedley May 19, 2012 at 05:43 PM
So pick something else. Either way it is a service I don't use just like you and the public schools so I should be entitled to a rebate for everything I don't use. The big difference is that the public schools that you don't use still benefit your property value and the desirability of the town you moved to. No one is moving to a particular town because their fire department is ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
Sophie May 19, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Hi CKW -- You'll have to excuse Hedley's edge. He/she is the self proclaimed protector of the children (and computers) of Millburn. Evidently, that children protector thing doesn't extend to protecting the private school kids -- just the public school kids. :-( Hi Hedley -- I agree with your rationale as to why you deserve a rebate from the town for not using the fire department. Maybe there is a way of making a request from the fire department to not respond in the event there is a fire at your home (kind of like a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate)). That way you'll be able to legitimately request a rebate for not needing the fire department's services.
Nancy May 20, 2012 at 12:42 AM
I'm a student and at least I haven't never seen any bullies in my private school life.. you know what i mean,,,
Nancy May 20, 2012 at 12:43 AM
I'm a student and at least I have never seen any bullies in my private school life.. you know what i mean,,,
Henny Penny May 21, 2012 at 04:24 AM
US News and World Report 2012 NJ state public high school rankings: Elizabeth, Chatham, Ridge, Princeton......12th place MIllburn. Hedley said "The big difference is that the public schools that you don't use still benefit your property value and the desirability of the town you moved to". Did Hedley put her property on the market yet?
mareceymorgan@ymail.com May 21, 2012 at 11:38 AM
I totally agree Catholic school mom. And to those that think 14k in taxes means a great school system think again. I do pay for the busing and they get several thousand over that amount. The public schools squander enough of my taxes. Busing is the least I should get.
mareceymorgan@ymail.com May 21, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Hedley your point doesn't make sense. There is no way my kids will ever use public schools. Don't want my kids going somewhere where there are fights in the hallways every day. But the fire department is something you may need one day. I hope that no one ever has to use it but you never know. God bless our fireman. By the way, in my district they are volunteer. So my taxes don't even go to the them but I would gladly pay it.
Sanchez May 21, 2012 at 12:13 PM
I agree with you 100%. It is a family decision if you want your child to go too private or public school, however I'm paying high amount in taxes and my kids don't even attend public school, so I wonder I'm paying for for somebody else expenses. Well if thats the case than lower my taxes and I'll drive the kids my self to school.
Clarice N Doctor May 22, 2012 at 12:21 PM
I feel that if we are paying the taxes for school then that money should go towards the funding for where my child goes to school. Meaning if you are sending your child to public then your tax dollars should go towards public, If your child goes to private then your dollars should go towards private. Personally I think it if I pay my taxes and my child isn't going to benefit from it. I want a refund on ALL my tax dollars that goes towards public school. ALL OF IT!!! I am tired of the system getting over.
MDK May 22, 2012 at 04:04 PM
If this was the ranking of public and private schools...Millburn would be ranked dismally low due to all the private schools that would rank ahead of many of these highly ranked public schools. Many public schools wouldn't even be in the top ranked high schools!!!
julia May 22, 2012 at 08:19 PM
I realize that sending my children to private school is my choice, and I usually shut up and pay and vote yes for my towns over-inflated and wasteful school budget...but now it is time for someone else to shut up and stop griping about the $850 they pay for busing. My child would be bused to our local public school anyway. How about someone saying "thank you" for paying taxes and not sending your child to the public schools. Let's all go to our local Board of Ed and register our private school children in public school next year. Let's see them gladly give us the $850 !
Theresa May 23, 2012 at 04:21 PM
I completely agree! We pay taxes just like everyone else in our town and private or parochial school children should be afforded the same transportation to education as public school children. It is all or nothing - all children of tax paying families should receive the same busing. Think of it this way, the only thing the private schoolers 'take' from the town is busing - no teachers' salaries, no extra books or materials, etc. There are less kids requiring public funding and all the families are asking is for busing. How dare someone say I pay taxes and am paying to bus another child to a private school. Shame on you, especially with children!
Hedley May 23, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Since when do we live in a pay as you go/a la carte tax system? If you send your kids to private school (and congratulations to you for being able to afford to do so) why should you be entitled to any rebate of taxes just because you chose to opt out of public schooling? There are loads of municipal and county services that I don't utilize so should I get tax money back for those? Assuming the answer is no, why then, should opting out of public schools be any different?
KLF May 24, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Agree with Hedley. It's akin to purchasing all your books at Barnes & Noble instead of using the public library. If I decide to buy books instead of borrowing them from a publicly funded source, do I get a refund of my portion of taxes that go toward the Millburn Public LIbrary? And what about the town pool? If I join a country club instead of using the Millburn town pool, do I get a rebate? Then there's the matter of the town day camp. I've always sent my kids to private camps, so maybe I should ask for a refund for my portion of taxes that goes toward funding the Millburn summer camp. And Millburn Recreation ... my kids play on private club teams, like the Millburn Soccer Club. They don't participate in Millburn Rec soccer. I know my taxes are funding Millburn Rec, but I don't use it.
KLF May 24, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Point is ... all these things -- including public education -- are public goods. Even if you don't use them, they exist for the benefit of the public as a whole. The public funds public schools so that we will have an educated society. And that benefits everyone. That's what you are paying for.
KLF May 24, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Those whose goal is to have as low a tax bill as possible need to consider buying homes in a different community. You can live in a lower-tax community and still send your children to the same private schools they go to now.

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