Sullivan High School is one of five Chicago high schools selected for a new Free Fare Card Pilot program. The free fare card pilot program is intended to boost student attendance and reduce disciplinary problems and will allow 500 Chicago Public School (CPS) students, including 100 Sullivan students, to ride public transportation on school days for free.
Currently, all CPS students are eligible to apply for a “Student Riding Permit,” which provides them with reduced CTA bus and train fares on school days from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. To participate in the free fare program, students sign a contract agreeing they will not be absent from school more than five times per quarter or tardy more than six times. They also agree not to incur any disciplinary violations. If a student violates the terms of the contract, they are no longer eligible for the program and forgo the free fare cards.
The pilot program grew out of an idea presented to Mayor Emanuel by the Mikva Challenge Mayoral Youth Commission, a group of 25 Chicago high school and college students who meet with the Mayor on a regular basis to provide the Mayor with a youth-oriented perspective on the challenges facing the City.
Wells High School last year launched a similar program. Program participants experienced an average daily attendance rate of 85%, three percentage points higher than the school’s average. Program participants increased their yearly attendance average by 31% and were 12% more likely to attend school every day.
The entire cost of the pilot program is supported by a grant from Chicago-area philanthropist Wendy Abrams. The University of Chicago’s Network for College Success will evaluate the pilot program’s success in improving student attendance.
Principals at each school identify the students for the pilot program.
I applaud the Mayor for listening to the recommendations of our students and implementing this novel approach. Hopefully, it will result in increased attendance and reduced disciplinary problems at Sullivan and the other participating schools. I will keep you posted.