For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Dillingham, Cincinnati Federation of Teachers
Phone: (513) 602-4260
Cincinnati – Cincinnati Public Schools will be open for the new school year on Thursday. But last month’s decision by the Southwest Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) to eliminate the XTRA bus routes relied on by thousands of 7-12 students has spun CPS parents and high schools into a tailspin. The dedicated “XTRA” bus routes have been used by students in grades 7-12 to safely get to and from CPS high schools for decades. Students will now be expected to wait and get off at regular SORTA bus stops, mingle with non-student bus passengers and endure extra travel time, confusing bus transfers and potential safety hazards. We fear these inconveniences and hazards will increase drop outs and absences in a year when its critical for students to make up for lost instruction time.
In Cincinnati, there is already an unacceptable level of pedestrian fatalities and injuries. Too many students have been hit by cars in recent years. The city does not have adequate crossing guards to protect students at intersections. This reduction in services to CPS families and students is a betrayal to those of us who supported a recent transit tax increase for SORTA based on the promise higher taxes would actually improve and expand service! Moreover, the travel time for some of these students will be up to two hours just to get to school, making the new “Healthy Start” times at some CPS high schools meaningless.
SORTA is governed by a 16-member volunteer citizens’ board of trustees. Five trustees are appointed by the Mayor of Cincinnati and eleven are appointed by Hamilton County Commissioners.
The Ohio Revised Code states that the “appointing authority” may remove its SORTA appointees “for misfeasance, nonfeasance or malfeasance”. If the SORTA Board fails to move promptly to restore the XTRA routes that thousands of CPS families have relied on for decades, Mayor Cranley and the Hamilton County Commissioners should remove their appointees for failing to take into account the health and safety of these students – a clear example of misfeasance and nonfeasance.
The Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, concerned parents, teachers and community members will protest these cuts in front of City Hall at 4pm on Tuesday, August 17, and demand Mayor Cranley, City Council and the Hamilton County Commissioners call on their appointed board members restore the XTRA student routes, and replace them if they do not. This failure of leadership threatens the health and safety of students, and only widen the equity in education gap.
The Cincinnati Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals who champions the social and economic well-being of our members, Cincinnati’s children, families, working people and communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism and especially through our members’ work.