The St. Nicks Alliance has applied for $180,000 out of Councilman Stephen Levin’s $1 million in discretionary funding to make their plans for the Brooklyn Shuttle Initiative a possibility by the summer.
Greg Hanlon, a representative of St. Nick Alliance, estimates the project would cost $225,000 for capital funding to get the bus and mobile-library outfitted, along with $100,000 in operational costs for the first year.
“We believe the unmet need that we’re filling with this will be evident once we get this thing rolling,” Hanlon said. “We’re confident that we’ll have many sources of support.”
According to Hanlon, the bus would visit school events and offer books that can be checked out and taken home.
“Books like the Harry Potter series will be a lending option for kids, and some things will be for them to keep for themselves,” he said. “It presents them with ownership and leads to an element that comes with that book.”
David Dobosz, a retired schoolteacher of 25 years from Bushwick and Brownsville who now serves on the St. Nicks Alliance board, said the idea for a “reading bus” will offer students a way out of the regimented curriculum already in place.
“Students are reading in their classrooms, but they are reading prescribed literature and have very little choice in what they read,” Dobosz said. “With the standardization movement, there is very little wiggle room for individual difference.”
Born out of the St. Nicks Alliance’s Youth and Education Committee, the plans for the bus would theoretically combine reading with other activities like performance and video components.
“We’re hoping it will be much larger than a school bus,” he said. “We want a full-size touring bus or city bus, and we would have a member of the community – we have already contacted one - who would retrofit that bus for us for the purpose that we want.”