As the schoobrary inches closer to reality, I’m beginning to think about the practical issues ahead for a new downtown high school inside the library. The first one is simple: How will kids get there?
That might sound like a silly question, but it has been a big problem for the high school closest to the future schoobrary, San Diego High. KPBS chronicled the problem beautifully earlier this month:
Hundreds of students at San Diego High School do not have a cheap, safe and reliable way to get to school. The problem is so bad that many teens are chronically tardy. Others skip school all together. … (San Diego High School of the Arts Principal Consuelo) Manriquez decided to establish a bus pass scholarship for about 80 of her students. To apply, students had to write an essay. Manriquez wasn’t sure what to expect. A few weeks later, she was flooded with applications.
Each story had a common theme. The majority of her students come from low-income families and could not afford a monthly transit pass.
Though the schoobrary won’t be far from San Diego High, it’ll be in a different boat because it is a charter school. Charters are independently run, publicly funded and overseen by school districts. That means that they have to decide for themselves whether — and how — to pay for busing. KIPP Adelante, a charter middle school located downtown, provides buses. So does Preuss in La Jolla.
“One of the good things about this location is that it is bus and trolley friendly,” said Scott Himelstein, who directs a center at the University of San Diego that is working with the Library Foundation to develop a charter school plan. “But that presumes that kids can afford the bus and trolley. It’s going to be something we find some resources for, frankly.”
Himelstein said the issue is still unresolved. If the schoobrary doesn’t provide busing or bus passes, it could find itself fending off the same problems as San Diego High: chronic absenteeism and tardiness.
The problem underscores one issue around the schoobrary. While advocates say it will provide a neighborhood option for kids in the San Diego High area who are now bused out to other schools, downtown isn’t really in the neighborhood for many of those same kids. It’s definitely a lot closer than the schools that kids might be bused to. But it might still take a bus pass to make it there.
— EMILY ALPERT