Rep. Lombardi bill requires busing students who live more than two miles from school
STATE HOUSE – Rep. John J. Lombardi (D-Dist. 8, Providence) considers himself to be in pretty good physical condition, but he found himself a little tired out after a three-mile walk he took recently.
He’s glad he doesn’t have to do it every day, as do many students who live in his district.
Representative Lombardi was among those officials who participated in a “Walk in Our Shoes Challenge” organized by the Providence Student Union. The three-mile walk took about 90 minutes, and followed a course used by students on their way to Classical High School.
“Three miles is a long way to walk, and it’s a real imposition on these children who have to leave home extra early just to get to school on time,” said Representative Lombardi.
The Providence Student Union staged the walk in the hope of raising support to provide bus passes to students who live far enough away from their school to make them ineligible for school busing.
Representative Lombardi said he walked with the students to show his support for their cause, but he believes he has a better, simpler answer to the problem. He has introduced legislation, 2014-H 7012, that would require school committees to provide public transportation for any student who lives two miles or more from school.
The bill was heard recently before the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare and was held for further study.
“There are some students whose families cannot afford a bus pass, which means these students are forced to walk a great distance twice every day,” said Representative Lombardi. “Even for youngsters, that’s a lot of walking, especially when the weather isn’t good and with all the traffic on the roads. It can be dangerous and I think it’s expecting too much from these youngsters.”
Providence is the only city in the region with a three-mile busing limit and students at the city’s high schools are not eligible for a free RIPTA pass unless they live more than three miles from their school.
“That puts a lot of students in a very difficult position,” said Representative Lombardi. “I am not surprised that city schools record a lot of tardiness and absences. I think we need to do better by our students, and do what is reasonable to get the children to school, safe and sound. I think having to walk more than two miles to school is just not reasonable.”
The Lombardi bill has been co-sponsored by Rep. J. Patrick O’Neill (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket), Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton), Rep. Doreen Costa (R-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter) and Rep. Antonio Giarrusso (R-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich).
For more information, contact:
Randall T. Szyba, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903