Saturday, July 24, 2010

Inner-City School Buys Students Public Transit Passes, Realizes It's a Bad Idea $500K Later

Remember the good old days when our tax dollars paid for a big, yellow school bus to take our little youngsters to and from school?

Well, apparently, that's just not good enough for Columbus City Schools in Columbus, Ohio.

The school board authorized over half a million dollars to be spent to purchase up to 17,400 public bus passes, valid for up to one year. According to the district, they were only to for "official school functions and internships."

As most things, it sounded nice in theory, but in practice, well, not so much (emphasis mine):

The Columbus City Schools paid $520,470 to give up to 17,400 high-school students a COTA [Central Ohio Transit Authority] bus pass for one year, but the district is temporarily suspending the program starting today.

That means today, students who had free bus rides will have to pay the $1.75 one-way fare or the $2.50 express fare - even though district taxpayers already paid for them to ride the bus. The schools won't be getting any money back from COTA, either. This is the first time that students' riding privileges have been canceled mid-contract.

...If the district intended to limit pass usage, that's not what it paid for. The contract between the district and COTA says the service is "valid for unlimited rides on all COTA services effective October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010." Any "secondary student," which technically includes those out of elementary school, can use a school-issued bus pass.
Really? So, no one had the presence of mind to write into the contract, "Not valid on trips to the mall?"

Not only that, but these passes were purchased for students who didn't even attend Columbus City Schools.
The passes also can be issued to charter and private-school students who live within the Columbus City Schools boundaries, the contract says.
Well, that's nice and all, but if a parent chooses not to send their child to Columbus City Schools, why should Columbus City Schools pay for the bus fare to and from their school of choice?

Someone needs to be a grown up and take away the district's credit card. Enough is enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment