Fix the 90 minute problem

District must provide transportation for ELD students


Editorial Board

This article was originally published in an Oracle print issue in October of 2021.

Every day after school, students line up in the front parking lot, waiting for buses, their sole source of transportation to and from campus. Approximately 70 of these students are enrolled in the school’s English Language development program for second language learners.

More than a decade ago, the district ended the ELD program at LAHS, forcing students from the LAHS attendance area who required these services to commute to MVHS. The district’s decision has been consequential, particularly regarding transportation for students.

The Oracle proposes the district allocate a designated bus for ELD students to make transportation more accessible and to provide support for students who need it to ensure their well-being and academic success. The bus would be free and run multiple times a day between MVHS and select centralized bus stops for ELD students who live in the LAHS attendance area.

According to an anonymous ELD student, most students who use the bus as their mode of transportation must take at least two VTA-provided buses to get home—meaning getting on one, then getting off, walking to another stop, and boarding another bus. With traffic and stops, the journey takes at least 30 or 45 minutes one way. Students must also wake up early in order to board their bus and arrive on time to school.

Although students may qualify to receive free bus passes, cost is not the only challenge. On top of full school schedules to maintain their graduation track, a large number of ELD students balance work and family responsibilities, which are further strained by extended commute time.

A free and direct bus would provide more efficient transportation, providing students with the opportunity to arrive early to school or stay after school for help or to participate in extracurriculars. Additionally, having two central bus stops increases the accessibility of transportation to and from school.

The district could model its transportation system for ELD students somewhat after the shuttle which is currently provided for LAHS students who attend Freestyle Academy. The shuttle transports up to 14 Freestyle students between LAHS and Freestyle for AM and PM sessions.

ELD students are being overlooked; if the district is able to provide this service for Freestyle students, there is no justifiable reason why providing a similar transportation system for ELD students wouldn’t be feasible. This is unequal treatment of students and does not align with the district’s responsibility to serve the needs of all students.

Superintendent Nellie Meyer said supporting ELD students has been an ongoing priority for the district, but while multiple models to improve transportation have been discussed over the years, as of now, none of them has been enacted.

The time for coming up with models and proposals has long passed. The district has been talking about fixing the problem for a decade. It is time for the district to take action.