Phoenix-area school district uses ridesharing to transport students

Dec 14, 2021, 4:45 AM
Jalen Walker heads to football practice using service from the company ...
SPRINGFIELD, VA APRIL 03: Jalen Walker heads to football practice using service from the company HopSkipDrive in Springfield, Virginia on April 03, 2019. ALSO PICTURED, Is driver Jacqueline Bouknight. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Tolleson Union High School District is trying out a new way to get some students to and from school.

The school district is contracting a rideshare company called HopSkipDrive to pick up students from their home and take them to the nearest school bus stop.

This service is meant for students who are considered homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act. It’s also for students who live outside the district’s boundaries.

“It relieves a lot stress for our parents, but additionally it creates that additional choice for all the students who live outside our boundary that wish they could attend our schools,” Jeremy Calles, the district’s chief financial officer of business services, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Calles added parents “can relax knowing that they have an app that they can pull up at any time to see exactly where their student is at.”

Drivers have also gone through a rigorous background check and have a fingerprint clearance card. They have a decal on their vehicles and on a t-shirt so they can be easily identifiable.

The district is covering the cost of this new services with a $2 million grant it got through the Arizona Transportation Modernization Grant Program in November.

The $20 million initiative to improve access to reliable and safe transportation for students was established in the FY2022 budget by the state legislature.

“That funding is what’s making this possible,” Calles said, adding the district wouldn’t otherwise have the funds to cover the cost.

So far, a few dozen students are using HopSkipDrive to get to and from school. The district expects that number to grow next semester.

The Black Mothers Forum, which offers a microschool model for K-8 students, is also using funding it got from the Arizona Transportation Modernization Grant Program for ridesharing. The Phoenix-based group is developing an app with its grant money.

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Phoenix-area school district uses ridesharing to transport students