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First ID cards going out for expanded bus program

CMSD has started distributing identification cards to studentswho have become eligible for free rides to and from school on public transportation.

Under a new policy, the District will pay the Greater Cleveland Regional TransitAuthority to transport students who live at least a half-mile from school -- compared with the old minimum of 3 miles -- and has expanded eligibility from high school to include students in the sixth grade and up. The Board of Education approved the change to remove a barrier to attending school.

Cards are to be distributed this week at seven high schools: East Tech, New Tech @ East Tech, DesignLab Early College, Glenville and three schools that make up the John Hay Campus. Students at other schools will be given cards after printing equipment and supplies are received.

The cards, which also can be used for identification in school cafeterias and media centers, will be good for bus transportation from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on school days. The cards could be suspended for misconduct.

If cards are lost, families will be responsible for the cost of transportation until the cards are replaced – bus tickets will no longer be provided. The initial card and first replacement are free; after that, the District will charge a $10 fee.

CMSD projects that the number of students riding RTA could rise from 8,000 to more than 14,000. The District could pay $4.5 million per full year for the rides but will save because RTA is providing a larger bulk discount. The service previously cost $4.1 million a year.

The District is not required to provide  transportation for high school students. Ohio law mandates transportation for younger students who live more than 2 miles from school.