Representatives of mosdos around the city, bus company representatives, and the city office that links them–the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT)– came together Tuesday for an annual meeting to discuss busing issues and to show appreciation for those who make it possible for thousands of children to reach their schools daily.
Held at Yeshivah Toras Emes-Kamenentz in Flatbush, the gathering brought together the many parties that are involved in providing busing, including many OPT staff members, busing vendors, and account managers for yeshivos. Rabbi Moshe Ausfresser, chief account manager for the yeshivah community, led what was the 12th such meeting.
Rabbi Nosson Neuman, Menahel of Bais Yaakov Ateres Miriam in Far Rockaway, who was a guest speaker at the event, emphasized the role that transportation plays in each student’s success.
“I’m the principal of a school, but a big part of my day is being a bus monitor,” he said. “Everyone in this room, whether you’re a router or a driver or from the OPT office or a yeshivah, is a part of providing our children with the wholesome education they deserve.”
In light of the recent uptick in hate crimes and especially the recent shooting at the Poway Chabad, Rabbi Neuman spoke of the responsibility of people at all levels of education to combat attitudes that lead to such ugly consequences.
“As those in the field of education, it is up to us to fight the hate and intolerance that is all around us,” he said.
The gathering was also addressed by Rabbi Ausfresser and by Ms. Alexandra Robinson, Executive Director of OPT, who illustrated the sheer size of the operation that it takes to transport the more than 1 million students in New York City.
“We’re the largest ground fleet in North America, bigger than the MTA,” she said. “On the first day of school we fielded 27,000 calls and they weren’t all compliments, and on a regular day our call center gets 1,000.”
Ms. Robinson, a former classroom special education teacher, also emphasized the role that a smooth ride plays in what happens when a student reaches school.
“We know that what happens on the bus can make or break the day in the classroom,” she said.
Before the event, Rabbi Ausfresser emphasized to Hamodia the tremendous importance of maintaining clear communication between school administrators and the city agencies that support them, and for OPT staff to be familiar with those issues relevant to providing transportation to yeshivos. This meeting was designed to facilitate both goals.
“Every year there are different issues that come up and we’ve accomplished a lot since last year,” he said. “That’s why its important to get together and allow people to meet each other face to face.”
The meeting was held this Tuesday. It was initially scheduled for April 2, but was postponed as the date ended up being the day of the levayah of the Skulener Rebbe, zy”a. Last week, a similar meeting was held to discuss transportation for special needs students.
Rabbi Neuman in his remarks said that the service Rabbi Ausfresser and his office provide speaks for itself.
“I think that since the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, there hasn’t been a better investment than hiring Rabbi Ausfresser for this position.”