Monday, December 07, 2015

All Middle and High School F/RL Students to Get ORCA Cards

The Seattle Times is reporting that the decision from the City on the use of $1M of a transportation fund set aside for low-income citizens will be used to pay for ORCA cards for all middle and high school students in Seattle students (no matter where they live from their school.)

This decision came largely because of the unwaivering efforts of the Rainier Beach students who made it a front and center issue from last summer on.

I will admit surprise that the $1M could cover so many students but it's a great thing to find out.

Across the district, about 20,000 students qualify for free-or-reduced cost meals (about 37% of SPS students.)  About 120 students at RBHS have signed up with three-quarters of them eligible for the passes.

The Times reports that there are still details to be worked out. 

One caveat - if a student with a pass is late or doesn't come to school, they lose their pass rights.  (I would assume there is some grace period for this.)

Again, anyone who thinks that no one ever listens - either at SPS or City Hall - is wrong.  Concerted efforts by an organized group really can create change but it sometimes takes numbers or time or both.

One other observation is that this is going to save the district transportation dollars - let's hope for a full accounting of that savings and where it goes.


Po3 said...

This is really great news.

I wonder if Summitt Charter students receive transportation benefits or lunch benefits?

At $1.50 each way that adds up to $60/month. Add that to having to provide lunch for their student, cost to families to could easily come to $100/month to get to school and eat lunch.

Everyone? said...

This is great news!

I do wonder, if $1M covers 37% of SPS students, would $3M cover all of them? Perhaps that is worth considering? It might be easier to administer that way along with making it easier for all SPS students that have after school sports and clubs.

But it's absolutely great to see this at least for the students most in need, the FRL students. Excellent move by the City of Seattle!

Lynn said...

The article in the Times has been corrected to report that cards will only be issued to students who live between one and two miles of their school and are eligible for free or reduced price meals.

Student ORCA cards are only meant to be used for trips to and from school. The current year's purchase of ORCA cards was discussed at the September 17th Operations Committee meeting. From the meeting minutes:

In response to questions, she said that both Metro and the district look at ridership use and do not see much use on weekends and evenings; principals emphasize these are for school use when cards are distributed.

Use is limited because each year the cost of the cards is based on the total rides by students in the prior year. The cost per student for the current school year is $350. The district is spending almost $3,000,000 on ORCA cards for about 8,500 students. Assuming the cost is the same, the city will provide cards to about 2,800 students.

Cheezman said...

@Po3: Summit kids receive both transportation and lunch benefits.