Chris Swenson, Real Progress Montclair's candidate for Third Ward councilor, released a statement today on the much-circulated New York Times article that, he says, misrepresented the position of Real Progress Montclair on the town’s critical school busing program.
It was one of several press releases issued by the slate on Tuesday.
The New York Times article says that the slate's mayoral candidate, Karen Turner, has wondered whether Montclair students could use New Jersey Transit instead of school buses.
Swenson, who notes that he's a two-time winner of the New Jersey Press Association's "Responsible Journalism Award," said that the slate supports the Montclair school district's busing program.
“As a member of the Board of Education Budget Working Group, I am familiar with the Board of Education Transportation Sub-committee, which originally considered a number of ideas for operational and budget efficiencies including a proposal to replace private busing with a public transportation program," he said. "This idea was a non-starter that was never thoroughly analyzed or vetted.
“Karen Turner and rest of Real Progress Montclair never endorsed this idea and, in fact, our unequivocal support of our town's busing program has been published on our website for months," he added. “The New York Times fabrication of our position is deeply disturbing.”
But the New York Times reporter who wrote the article, Kate Zernike, said the information about busing comes straight from the slate's responses to the
Here it is, reprinted below:
In your role on the Board of Estimates, would you approve a Board of Education budget that eliminated the magnet school System in Montclair? Would you eliminate or reduce the school busing system?
Montclair 2012: No. No.
For Montclair: Our slate strongly supports the magnet school system in Montclair. We would preserve it. If it is possible to preserve the current magnet system while also reducing the cost of busing students, we will pursue those alternatives. A committee appointed by the Board of Education is looking at that issue, as well as whether the schools’ magnet themes can be improved, and we will study their report and consider their recommendations.
Real Progress Montclair: No. All candidates on the RPM slate are strong, unequivocal supporters of Montclair’s magnet school system. The magnet school system offers one of the best, most diverse and most creative learning environments in the entire country. Our busing system is essential to maintaining the magnet system, we would not eliminate it. The BOE Transportation Working Group has already studied possible changes to our busing program and concluded that the savings would not justify the disruption. However, the BOE Working Group has begun studying more innovative ways to transport our students, using NJ Transit buses and trains, for example. Those options might allow us to reduce our busing costs without reducing service to our students.