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Mid-City CAN Blog

Youth Bus Pass Has a Fighting Chance

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education verbally committed to keep the Youth Opportunity Pass pilot program running through the 2015-2016 school year, responding to testimonies and pleas from City Heights students, parents and community members.

“Please reinvest in me and my peers,” said Arlene Flores, former Crawford High School Student. “Having a free bus pass allowed me to be more independent and get more school work done.”

Mid-City CAN’s Improving Transportation Momentum Team rallied together, standing up one-by-one to share their stories with the board.

“My dad just had eye surgery so it’s been difficult for my family to get around with nobody to drive us around to different areas. Getting the youth bus pass helped me go to different places and go help my family out,” said Sitey Musa, Crawford High School Student.

Kyla Archeta, former Crawford Student, asks SDUSD Board to keep bus passes for future students. 
 Kyla Archeta, former Crawford Student, asks SDUSD Board to keep bus passes for future students.

Kyla Archeta asked the board to reinvest so that youth like her could discover their dreams for the future. As a recent graduate from Crawford High School, Archeta now has direction in life because of her YOP. The transportation allowed her to attend a three-month internship at the Crawford Garden, where she decided to major in philanthropy and promote food justice.

“I would have never had these aspirations if I had never attended these internships and that would not have been possible without the Youth Opportunity Bus Cards,” said Archeta.

Despite these examples, no money from the budget passed at the June 23 meeting was allocated for the YOP program. The board announced its plan to use the residual money in the MTS account to keep the bus passes through December, until more money can be allocated. 

“Part of the issue was we didn’t have the money at the beginning of the year to start the opportunity passes for the students, so kids didn’t really get to start until October…so then the data was possibly skewed and we didn’t know if it actually worked,” said Marten. “We wanted one full year and we don’t want to see interruption and we don’t think there needs to be any interruption in our perch going forward.”

Richard Barrera, SDUSD Board Member, also chimed in to communicate the board’s understanding of the importance of the program.

“It’s our intention that we wouldn’t interrupt in the middle of the school year,” said Barrera.

Although the intention to keep the program running is a big step in the right direction, many are asking the board to fully commit by allocating enough money to keep the program running all year. California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez wrote a letter to the board asking them to do just that.

“This program and, most importantly, our young people deserve your reinvestment. Please fully reinvest in the Youth Opportunity Pass Transit Program for the 2015-2016 school year,” said Gonzalez.

In a letter to the school board, parent and activist Carol Kim wrote, “The YOP program is exactly what policy makers often refer to as a ‘hand up,’ rather than a ‘hand out,’ allowing underserved San Diego Unified students to take significant steps towards breaking down barriers to access – and consequently, success - for themselves and their communities.”

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