Needy students to get bus pass discounts

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SAN DIEGO —  A pilot program that would provide discounted bus passes to about 1,000 needy students at several schools for the 2013-14 school year was unanimously approved tonight by the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education.

mts-bus“This is a very important moment to be able to move this basic concept forward, that we should be able to help the families of students struggling economically to make sure their students get to school day-to-day,” said board member Richard Barrera, who co-sponsored the pilot program with colleague Marne Foster.

Noting the pilot program would only apply to the most needy families who do not qualify for daily school bus transportation, Barrera said low-income families are burdened by paying $36 for monthly student public bus passes.

“We’re reaching out to the city, and to (the Metropolitan Transit Service) to form a partnership to help these students get discounted bus passes,” Barrera said.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner told the board he recommended $200,000 in the city’s budget for the pilot program.

“The City Council needs to approve it,” said Filner adding,  “Our job as a city is to make sure our resources are helping you (educators) do your job, which is the toughest job we have to do in this city.

Characterizing the bus pass pilot program as  “well thought out,” Filner said,  “We’re showing we’re committed to getting these kids to school to help them, their families, and our future as a city.”

Foster said the pilot program will have  “far-reaching implications,” adding  “we need to make sure all our students have equal access to school.”

The board voted 5-0 to approve the proposal.

In other matters, a petition to establish the San Diego Military Academy Charter School was voluntarily withdrawn by the petitioner and that withdrawal was unanimously accepted by the board.

“The petitioner withdrew because staff thoroughly evaluated and vetted their application and found it wanting,” said board vice president Frank Beiser.  “This just goes to show we don’t just rubber stamp every charter that comes before us, that we have a thorough vetting process.”

The board also voted 5-0 to approve a 180-day academic calendar for the 2013-2014 academic year, which will begin Sept. 3 for both traditional and year- round schools and end June 16, 2014 for traditional schools and July 21, 2014 for year-round schools.

The winter break will begin Dec. 23 for both traditional and year-round schools and spring break March 31.

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