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Mayoral Candidate Jorge Elorza statement on Providence Public School’s busing policies

Following an article posted yesterday on Rhode Island’s Future, Candidate for Providence Mayor, Jorge Elorza released the following statement on the matter.

Jorge Elorza, Democratic candidate for Mayor of Providence, issued the following statement on Providence Public School Department’s busing policy.

jorge-elorza-002Our city’s public high school students are not eligible for bus passes unless they live more than three miles from school. Students that fall into the far end of that range could be walking for as long as 45 minutes to an hour just to make it to their first period classes.

As a community, we have to do everything in our power to make sure our students are in their classrooms and learning. Our students face too many challenges for us to be creating additional institutional barriers for them. Denying students who live between 2-3 miles away from school bus passes impacts learning, impacts health, and impacts safety, and our low-income communities are disproportionately affected.

When I was a child growing up on Cranston Street, my Mother acted as the school bus for many kids in the neighborhood. Although we were lucky to have her there to bring us to school, not every student is as lucky as we were.

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Providence parking ban at midnight; no school tomorrow

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Snow from yesterday’s storm this morning on Broadway

Posted on February 4, 2014.

Here we go again. From the City:


Providence Public Schools Closed Tomorrow, Feb. 5

Parking Ban Begins at Midnight Tonight – Don’t ‘Block the Box’

PROVIDENCE, RI – In preparation for a winter snow storm forecast to bring treacherous driving conditions and leave several inches of heavy, wet snow in Providence, Providence Public Schools will be closed tomorrow, Wednesday, February 5, 2014.

The City of Providence has declared a citywide parking ban beginning at midnight tonight. The parking ban will remain in effect until further notice.

The State of the City Address that had been planned for tomorrow evening will take place on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 5PM in the City Council Chambers at Providence City Hall.

Snowfall is expected to begin in the early morning hours tomorrow and continue throughout the day before turning to sleet and freezing rain. Residents are advised that freezing temperatures forecast for tomorrow night will likely cause untreated walkways to become icy. Residents are asked to take caution while clearing snow from sidewalks as soon as possible to prevent icy conditions.

The Department of Public Works has prepared all equipment and personnel to respond to the storm. The City’s Emergency Operations Center will be partially activated with Providence Emergency Management staff.

Residents can stay up to date on the latest storm developments from the City by using the filter #PVDsnow on Twitter and following the accounts of Mayor Taveras and PEMA.

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UCAP School expansion

The expansion of the UCAP School on Broadway is on the City Plan Commission Agenda for this afternoon. I requested a copy of the Staff Report and it looks like a pretty good project.

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Service Road facade. Click image to enlarge.

Of course, the devil as always is in the details, with this type of rendering it is difficult to tell what the materials are. However, at first look it is nice, doesn’t make one recoil in horror. There’s a short list of nitpicks as always: A rather blank wall along the Service Road. I won’t go on about saving the Engle Tire Building, but it is always annoying to not have a net gain on the vacant lot scoreboard. I’d prefer to see taller buildings along the Service Road, but there is still plenty of developable space.

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Youth4Change: Why Winter Is a Nightmare for Providence Youth and How You Can Help

This post was submitted to Greater City: Providence by Youth4Change. It is a quite timely message given the condition of the sidewalks across Providence this morning. Above is a photo from my 1 mile walk to work this morning.

I remember being a kid and jumping for joy when I saw my first snowflake of the season. The thrill of seeing beauty fall from the sky, the hope for snow days, and the desire to drop down and make snow angels returns to me this time of year. But for many of Providence youth, snow brings on the feeling of dread not joy. The dread and disgust comes from the thought of walking miles to school in the frigid New England temperatures. Wet shoes, cold ears and frost bitten fingers are not the way most of us want to spend our mornings day after day, however, for many Providence high school students, this is the reality every winter.

Currently in the city of Providence, high school students who live within 3 miles of their school are not provided transportation and are expected to walk, get a ride, or in the case for most students, pay their own bus fare. Recent RIPTA fare increases now force many students to pay $5 a day to get to and from school. This expense does not include travel to after-school activities and jobs, opportunities known to increase a student’s academic performance and increase their odds of receiving college acceptance and scholarships. The $5 or more a day students spend in bus fare is clearly a financial burden for families in a district where 82% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch (Providence Public Schools, Fact Sheet 2008-2009). For families who can’t afford the expense, students must either walk in the cold or bunk school. If it were you, which would you choose?

Youth 4 Change (Y4C), an alliance led by four non-profit youth organizations—Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM), Young Voices, and Youth In Action (YIA)—has been pushing for more youth voice and influence in public policy and decision making. Their Transportation 4 Education campaign is aimed at decreasing student barriers to attending school and assuring youth right to accessible transportation.

This month, Y4C was selected by The Pepsi Refresh Project to compete in a national competition to receive $50,000 to implement a public awareness campaign. The Pepsi Refresh Project is an evolution of the Refresh Everything initiative Pepsi launched in 2009. In an effort to support those who generate innovative, optimistic ideas, the Pepsi Refresh Project has awarded more than $13 million in 2010 to move communities forward. Organizations can apply for grants to benefit a variety of projects and supporters can vote for the best ideas for funding.

Y4C is in the running for a $50,000 grant to fund their Transportation 4 Education public awareness campaign. This campaign will include youth-produced and youth-designed billboard ads, radio ads, and television commercials about student barriers to attending school.

Y4C is in competition against 1,000 businesses and organizations. The top ten will receive the funds to implement their idea. Y4C needs YOUR VOTE to win!

How you can help:

  1. Vote Every Day!
    – Online: Go to www.y4cri.org and click Vote For This Idea
    – Text: Send 104586 to Pepsi (73774)
  2. Share this Post! – Include the Y4C video and voting information
  3. Encourage a Friend to Vote!
  4. Learn more about Y4C!
    – Visit www.y4cri.org and text Y4C to 313131 to sign up for text message alerts and updates

Y4C gets nothing if enough votes aren’t gathered. Vote today! Each vote gets Y4C closer to their goal. Voters can login or text everyday. The contest ends Dec. 31st.

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