Teenage mothers and other at-risk students attending a downtown alternative school could soon be riding city buses to school for free under a pilot program being developed by the city of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma City Public Schools.
The program for Emerson Mid-High School students is expected to begin in April and could save the school district more than $20,000 annually on bus service, officials said Thursday at a joint meeting of some school board members and city council members.
“Having the option of these services from the city allows us to rethink where the district can best put its resources to work,” said interim Superintendent Dave Lopez. “All of a sudden the money we're spending on our own buses is freed up for instructional uses.”
About 70 percent of Emerson's 160 students are expectant mothers or teen moms and many don't live close to Emerson and don't have transportation.
The district provides bus service for about 45 female Emerson students. Several male students ride Metro Transit to Emerson through private donation, officials said.
Under the proposed plan, the school district would provide supplemental transportation from transit station downtown to Emerson, which is about three blocks away.
If successful, the program could be expanded to include free city bus service to career academies, enterprise schools and after-school programs, opening doors for students who might otherwise not be able to participate, officials said.