Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Good news re PPSD Transportation - by Kim Rohm

I am endlessly lucky to have Kim Rohm as a friend and fellow Providence Public Schools parent. Kim is an opportunity finder and problem solver. To know her, and especially to have your kids go to school with her kids, is to have a better, happier life. She sees the good in people and situations and thoughtfully, efficiently, and diplomatically solves problems and busts through barriers. I LOVE HER.

You may recall that in my scattered impressions of last week, I groused a bit about bus passes. I am happy to say: problem solved! In fact, my kids are taking the bus to the JCC today, and that is completely thanks to the teamwork of Kim and the truly responsive PPSD central office staff. 

I asked Kim to tell the story, as it's really her story to tell. Here it is, in her words:

There are reasons to be encouraged that the Providence Public School District is working to fix the bus transportation challenges that many families face throughout the City of Providence. Eligibility for a bus pass is a student transportation issue that has caused a great deal of stress for both parents and students. In the 2011-2012 school year, to be eligible for student transportation, a student in elementary school must live 1 mile or more from school, in middle school, 1 ½ miles or more and in high school, 3 miles or more.

As you (Jill) wrote in this blog on December 31, 2010, Youth4Change Alliance chose as its most important issue accessibility to transportation. This year, in a pilot program, PPSD provided 600 RIPTA bus passes free of charge for freshman students who live two miles or more from the school. This is a reduction in the mileage of the previous policy and the result of negotiations between PPSD and RIPTA. According to a letter from Superintendent Lusi to Freshman Parents posted on the PPSD website, “The program is offered on a trial basis to see if there is an improvement in school attendance among ninth graders and is not guaranteed in future school years.” I hope that attendance does in fact improve markedly enough to ensure that passes are given to ninth grade students again next year, and that the program can be expanded to include upper grades.

For the past seven years, at the beginning of each school year, I personally become anxious about getting a bus pass for my children who are enrolled at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary to attend the after school program at the Jewish Community Center. In the past, while the bus would drive right by the JCC, numerous phone calls to the transportation office, Superintendent’s office, my Councilman’s office, even the Mayor’s office were necessary to secure a pass for my transportation eligible children to receive a pass to get off the bus at the JCC instead of their assigned bus stop. This year, after making only one request, my son came home with a bus pass the first week of school.

I am very grateful to the PPSD Administration and the Transportation Office for working hard to accommodate my request and that of others at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School. I am encouraged by the pilot program for the City’s ninth grade students and encourage others to continue to advocate for the transportation that they need for their students.


Note from Jill: 

As Kim says, you need to advocate for the transportation that your kids need. Please speak up! If you're not sure who to talk with, post a comment below or email me at jill.davidson@gmail.com. I'll do everything I can to connect you to help. And even if the challenges aren't simple, we still need to speak up for and with Providence's young people so that they can get to and from school safely. Let's work together to get this done.

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