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Alleviating Barriers for Homeless Students and Those in Foster Care

Posted August 29, 2023, 12:35 PM. Updated September 15, 2023, 12:02 PM.

APS Board approves alternative transportation services contract.

Students experiencing homelessness and those in foster care face barriers as they pursue their education.

One of the biggest hurdles for some of these students is getting to school given that a student’s new foster family may live far from the school or a student experiencing homelessness may be staying with family members or at a shelter across town.  

Albuquerque Public Schools is taking steps to alleviate those barriers.

The Board of Education recently approved a four-year, $1.2 million contract for First Student, an Ohio-based transportation company, to provide alternative transportation services for students experiencing homelessness and those in foster care.

“We’re trying to do what we can to help these students succeed in school,” said Dr. Kristine Meurer, executive director of the district’s Student, Family, and Community Supports Division. “We want to keep them in their own schools because that’s where their friends and teachers are, and that gives them stability.”

The drivers will all be screened and trained and will use regular vehicles, not buses. Parents or guardians will be asked to sign off on the transportation services.

Student First will be paid a minimum of $65 per trip. After the first 7 miles, the cost is an additional $2.50 a mile. The contract gives APS the opportunity to use the company’s services as needed, with no minimum. The district is budgeting $300,000 a year.

“We will only use this company when we’ve exhausted all other options,” Meurer said. “If we have another way to get the student to school, we’ll go with that option.”

APS is using federal funds to pay for these services, specifically Title 1 and McKinney Vento funds as well as school-based Medicaid funding. The State Children, Youth and Families Department will also help with the cost.

Transportation for students experiencing homelessness and those in foster care has been a barrier for years. Federal law requires school districts to take steps to eliminate the barrier.