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Mid-City CAN Blog

SDUSD OKs $150K, mayor adds $200K to fund transit

130409ITCHChanting "more transportation, better education," and holding green signs reinforcing that message, Mid-City CAN members made sure that the San Diego Unified board knew transportation was key for many low-income students.

On April 9, several dozen Mid-City CAN members and City Heights residents carpooled to the San Diego Unified School District board meeting to make their voices heard.

The school board did hear them, and unanimously approved $150,000 to provide no-cost public transportation to students – pending $200,000 in matching funding from the city – at Hoover and Crawford in City Heights – as well as Lincoln and San Diego high schools.

The members of Mid-City CAN's Improving Transportation in City Heights – or ITCH – team also found some high-level support from the audience. San Diego Mayor Bob Filner spoke in favor of the no-cost Youth Opportunity Passes calling it a small but important issue that is "going to lead to a lot of bigger actions."
ITCH leaders reinforced why the issue is critical.

"It's important because our students will attend their school, get their education that they missed before for being late, not coming in, working far away from the school, being late for their nutrition break, also their first period classes," said Foos Ridwan, leader in the ITCH team and City Heights resident.

Sahra Dugow is another leader of the team and a City Heights resident. She saw other benefits for young students besides not missing out on educational opportunities.
"It is also part of safety as well," she said. "We put them in a safe place."
Amina Barre, an ITCH team member and City Heights resident, summed up why it is so important.
If a student is walking, because the parents don't have a car, "he'll find bad friends, start smoking, drinking, not going to school," she said. "He hangs out with the bad kids. They are not going to be walking if they have a free bus pass."
She also had personal reasons for being happy.
"I'm lucky today," she said. "I'm happy, because I'm a single mother. I have two girls one. I always have to drop her off at school and pick her up."
School Board Member Richard Barrera introduced the motion to the board with support from School Board Member Marne Foster.
"We can start to do something in the '13-'14 year so [that] the burden of simply getting to school and back is not disproportionately put on the backs of certain families who don't have access to school transportation," he said.
Mayor Filner credited Mid-City CAN and the City Heights community with making this a high-profile issue.
"We all know that the greatest ideas come from the neighborhoods, and it was the community groups and the kids who said 'You have got to make sure that we get here,' " he said. "And we had to sign pledges that we were going to get the money to do this."
Filner put $200,000 for the passes in his budget, released on April 15. The City Council must approve the budget for the funding to be available for the 2013-'14 school year.
"We're going to get these kids to school, and we're going to show how that is meaningful," he said. "That it's going to help their achievement. That it's going to help their families. That it's going to help our future as a city."
Maria Cortez, another leader of the ITCH team and a City Heights resident, knows how easy it is for students to fall through the cracks.
"I've been working at Franklin Elementary for 26 years, and I found out today that we have a parent who is homeless," she said. "She has two kids that attend high school. She couldn't pay for the bus passes. She has another child that attends middle school -- couldn't afford the bus passes, and also I haven't seen the little daughter that attends my elementary school.
"I don't know why, but to me this is that struggle that we go through in City Heights."

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