Wednesday, April 12, 2006

School Board to Ask City to Put Students on METRO

The Portland School Committee on April 5th voted 8-1 in support of beginning the process of consolidating some public school transportation services with METRO by giving free bus passes to high school students in the city during the school year. The students would ride the buses voluntarily and report back to city officials on how the system might be improved.

The vote directs the School Board Chair to compose a letter and send it to the City Council, asking them to go ahead with a plan that was crafted by the joint finance committees of the School Board and City Council last fall. That plan was deemed to be unworkable for a number of reasons at a meeting of city and school staffers and Metro officials in February.

However, School Board member Stephen Spring, who is pushing the plan, says that that group misunderstood the intent of the plan, and that it should be elected officials who decide whether the new policy should be pursued.


Blogger Ben said...

Hmmmm. Two things to comment about here. First, growing up in New York, I think it makes perfect sense to encourage students to use the public transportation system. Developmentally, they should be nurtured in their independence and trusted with the responsibility of getting themselves where they need to be in a timely fashion.

Second, I don't know the details, but it seems to me that Mr. Spring's comments are a little out of line. If the staffers have concerns, it might be better to work with them and find a way for them to take ownership of the idea rather than to "pull rank" and say elected officials get the final say. (I use the expression reluctantly since it only applies if you believe convincing voters every couple of years that you know something about issues is intrinsically more valuable than dedicating your professional life to knowing the details about how systems works.)

The truth is staffers are hired, presumably, for their expertise. It is demoralizing for them to be told their input doesn't count. And what greater good does it serve to twist arms and force a program on people?


18 April, 2006 06:24  

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