SCS to discuss giving MATA passes to all students

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The journey to and from school could be getting a little simpler for Shelby County Schools students.

A resolution was proposed to the Shelby County School Board by board member Kevin Woods that would give MATA bus passes to all SCS students.

The cost of such a program has not been decided, but Woods told the board he thinks the cost would be worthwhile.

“Regardless of the cost, we think the return of investment if it reduces absenteeism, and if it helps students who want to go to work find employment opportunities, we think that’s a huge investment and a huge return on investment for our students,” Woods said at a board meeting in January.

Woods requested a feasibility study be done to figure out the cost of the program and find out what else it would require. That study is still ongoing, according to an SCS spokesperson.

The school system’s spokesperson said, if approved, the passes would be able to be used not only to get to and from school, but also to get to after school activities and to and from jobs.

It is unclear when those passes would be available, but Justin Davis with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center and the MATA Bus Riders Union said he is glad to know that the passes could be used for other reasons than just going to and from school.

“It’s been mainly high schoolers talked about, but I think all SCS students could benefit from something like this,” Davis said.

Davis said MATA is usually underfunded and does not have a dedicated source of funding, so a program like this would bring much needed funding to MATA.

He also acknowledged that MATA’s stops and routes aren’t always at the same time and place a school bus would travel, so extra stops could be added if the program passes and is utilized.

The resolution originally came from a student group, Brothers and Sisters Speaking Out for Change, and then it was picked up by the school board.

The board is set to go over the resolution and hear public comments about the program at their Feb. 26 meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m.

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