Today, I spoke with staff at the office of the sponsor of this measure, Councilman Mike O'Brien.
- This measure would be paid out of a fund for access to public transportation by low-income citizens. They will use $1M of this fund to help support ORCA cards for SPS students.
- The City will be sitting down with Seattle Schools, Metro and SDOT to hammer out the details.
- Those details include: who will get these cards,the contract with SPS, the drop in the walk zone from one mile to two miles (or maybe none at all), if the City starts covering some kids that SPS is currently covering, where would those SPS transportation dollars would go.
- The funding is unlikely to start until after the first of the year. It sounds like O'Brien's office would really like to get this done sooner but there is a lot of different public entities to juggle and frankly, we're going into the holiday season where it is historically harder to get things done.
- funding all F/RL high school students down to one mile (versus the current two miles)
- funding some of the F/RL high school students down to 1 mile AND funding some F/RLmiddle school students down to 1 mile
- some other kind of mash-up
The upside to this action are really much larger than just helping kids who want to get to school more easily and more safely. Those students will also now have increased access to places to expand their learning as well as be able to perhaps get to an after-school job or get home in time to take care of younger siblings.
O'Brien's aide, Josh Fogt, said that the City had heard from the Rainier Beach High School students and it had made an impact.
Once again, we are seeing the rise of parent power AND student power. Change can come with large numbers of people working the system. It may be slow and incremental but we are seeing that activism can reap rewards.
end of update
The Stranger Slog reports this from today's City Council budget meeting:
Public school students on free or reduced lunch will get free bus passes. It'll cost $1 million. Thank Harrell, Sawant, and Mike O'Brien for sponsoring that. (But don't thank Harrell for voting on it since he wasn't there; his colleagues unanimously passed the idea.)
It was previously report in Real Change that Director Patu and Bruce Harrell had been working on this; no reason given for him not being at this meeting.
I'll check but I think that this means free/reduced lunch high school students, not all SPS students on free/reduced lunch.
Thank you to the City for recognizing what the district should have.