Parents fight city as students fight traffic to get to school

BY SAM SPOKONY  |  Some parents of children attending P.S./I.S. 276 in Battery Park City are calling on the city’s Department of Education to provide bus service to the school’s third-to-eighth-graders, who are currently denied the service based on technicalities.

According to guidelines laid out by D.O.E’s Office of Pupil Transportation students above second grade, and who also live less than one mile from their school, cannot ride the bus unless they are granted a hazard variance due to safety concerns.

The group of 30 parents currently zoned for the 55 Battery Pl. school, live in the Fincancial District, and the majority would utilize the school bus stop at Wall and William Sts.

Students coming from the west side of the Financial District must cross, amid rush hour traffic, both the exit of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and the busy north and southbound lanes on West St. on their way to P.S./I.S. 276 each morning.

Image from a youube video showing the traffic hazards of walking from the Financial District to P.S/IS. 276 in Battery Park City.
Image from a youube video showing the traffic hazards of walking from the Financial District to P.S/IS. 276 in Battery Park City.

“Third- to eighth-grade should be provided the same safe transportation of general education bus as their younger siblings and school peers who do not reside in Battery Park City,” wrote P.S./I.S. 276 Katherine Godici, a representative of the parents, to the city in a Sept. 30 request for the hazard variances.

But all 30 variances were denied by the agency, due to an opinion that “no hazards” existed on the walking route, according to October response letters sent by O.P.T. to the families.

“I couldn’t believe that they deemed it safe,” Godici, who lives on Broad St. and whose children are currently in first and second grade at the school, said in a phone interview on Dec. 16. She’s worried about the hazards her own kids will face when they age out of the bus requirement.

Godici explained that the Pupil Transportation office also suggested an alternate walking route for the students. But she objected to that as well, saying that the proposed route added an unnecessarily long detour for the children, and pointing out that it still required them to cross traffic entering and exiting West St., a state roadway also known as Route 9A.

She posted a youtube video documenting the walk’s hazards, which so far has drawn over 800 views.

Parents argue that the variance would not require additional funds since they say the bus is now mostly empty. The group has continued to press the issue, and has since begun working with State Senator Daniel Squadron’s office in hopes of convincing O.P.T. to reconsider the decision. And now, it looks like they may get another chance at being granted the hazard variances.

“We will be re-evaluating the walking route during the holiday break and review the decision,” a D.O.E. spokesperson said in a Dec. 16 email.