School district will bus kids to Southampton

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Shelter Island School
REPORTER FILE PHOTO Shelter Island School

Resignation or elation.

Those emotions reflect responses from residents who last year opposed the busing of Shelter Island students to a Southampton Catholic school and those who fought for it.

Proponents of the busing to Our Lady of the Hamptons gathered enough signatures to place a referendum on last May’s School District ballot that if it had passed would have forced the Shelter Island School District to pay for a bus to Southampton. Last year that trip was calculated at 16.1 miles from students’ homes to Southampton, or beyond the 15-mile radius the state has marked as a cut-off point districts must honor for busing.

Last May’s vote was 367 against providing the bus to 156 in favor.

But this year, no vote is needed for three children who live 14.8 miles from Our Lady of the Hamptons, requiring a bus for them. The busing will begin in September.

The hours for Our Lady of the Hamptons conflict with the hours for Ross and Hayground schools, which are within the 15 mile radius, necessitating a separate bus.

“We’re very excited,” Andrew Ward said. He and his wife have a child in kindergarten and one in second grade this year at Our Lady of the Hamptons. For the current school year, the couple has been part of a carpool for some of the transportation and provided their own means of bringing their children back to the Island at the end of the school day.

“The kids are looking forward to it,” he said about the bus transportation.

Mr. Ward noted he had been a parochial school student and wants the same opportunity for his children.

“It’s good for parents who want to exercise their faith in this way,” Dianne Bowditch said about the Our Lady of the Hamptons busing.

“Nothing can be done,” said Fred Buonocore, a resident who voted against the busing last May. “We don’t have a choice. There is no recourse.”

Resident Bob Fredericks agreed the district has no choice but to offer the busing while calling the approximately $68,000 cost “almost non-consequential” in a budget of more than $11.7 million.