SCS to discuss MATA passes for students at open meeting Tuesday

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If one Shelby County School Board member has his way, every high schooler in the district could get a free year-round MATA bus pass.

The motion is up for public discussion at the SCS board meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., and parents will have their chance to bring their concerns and questions to board members.

The idea of giving free city bus passes to high schoolers is just the latest attempt to combat truancy and make the city more accessible.

"From 13 to 15, they can't drive, and they do need to be mobile," said James Rogers, a grandparent of an SCS student. "Teenagers do need to be taught to be more independent."

The motion was proposed by school board member Kevin Woods, who proposed the idea of giving free year-round MATA passes to 9th-12th grade students.

Rogers thinks Woods' idea has been needed in Memphis for a while.

"I went to school in D.C. for a while, and they had discount tokens for students to catch the bus," he said.

He said many metropolitan areas offer discounts to students, and if Memphis want to keep up, they have to catch up with those trailblazers.

Barbalette Davis, a parent, said the passes could help students get to after-school jobs and could also give them a way home from after-school programs.

"Anything that is going to add to the productivity of this city is a plus," Davis said.

Even when Davis was told the passes could come with a pretty nice price tag, she still didn't budge.

"In this case, we are talking about the costs, but in this case, the benefits will outweigh those in the long run," Davis said.

Last board meeting, Woods said something very similar when asked about the price. He said regardless of the cost, the investment would be worth it.

The meeting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. is open to the public and will include public comments and an opportunity to express concerns.

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