Special Report | LPS Looking To Bus Homeless Students

LINCOLN, Neb.-- Monday night kids around Lincoln will be getting ready for the first day of school Tuesday. Most of them are doing that at home, but hundreds of homeless Lincoln students are getting ready at the People's City Mission, Friendship Home, Cedars, or in a home they share with another family.

But LPS said they do everything they can to help those kids feel like any other when they go to school. Now a new proposal could get them to school more like other kids.

When Elizabeth Patillo got to the People's City Mission. She wasn't sure how she'd get her kids to school.

"I don't feel safe with the kids riding the city bus," she said. But Patillo would have had to send her kids on the city bus, it was her only option. That is, until LPS stepped in.

"Usually what we do is put them on a cab. A taxi cab to take them to school. The reason for that is that, usually, that neighborhood isn't the neighbor they came from," said Bryan Seck, LPS' Homeless Outreach Specialist. He said the district likes the cab system, but he's been working on a new plan to get Lincoln's homeless students to class.

"So what we want to do is use these smaller buses to pick up students at the People's City Mission and take them to the schools they attend."

Seck said me for homeless students, taking a seat on the bus like any other kid is an important way to start the day.

"This is another way in which homeless students, who are experiencing an incredibly traumatic experience in their lives can know that in this part of their lives is totally normal," he said.

And it's not just good for the students LPS said students taking buses in groups will be less expensive than the kids taking taxis every day.

Seck said the cost for cabs is at least $40 a day.

Liz Standish, the Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs, said the district plans to use about $130,000 left over from the 2013-2014 school year to buy four buses and two passenger vans. What ever that doesn't cover would come from this year's budget. She said after buying the vehicles the district expects the operation cost to be $150,000 each year after. That will save the district, and taxpayers, $40,000.

Patillo and her kids are looking forward to the idea of taking what LPS calls 'the first and last classroom of the day' to school.

If the proposal is passed, Seck said the students will start taking the buses and vans second semester this year.


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