TACOMA, Wash. — Editor's note: The above video is from an April 2019 meeting where the Tacoma superintendent discusses the district's budget. 

Tacoma Public Schools has collaborated with the city of Tacoma and Pierce Transit to provide all 7,900 high school students with access to an ORCA card. 

The cards will be loaded with a Pierce Transit bus pass, which is good for unlimited local bus rides from now until the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. 

Tacoma Public Schools had already budgeted $415,000 for the 2019-2020 school year to purchase Pierce Transit local bus passes for a portion of their high school students. 

Under the new agreement, Tacoma Creates funding provides an additional $100,000 in support of the Tacoma Whole Child partnership. That funding support bridges the gap, giving every TPS high school student access to an unlimited-rides bus pass. 

After this year's pilot program, the district and the city will examine its success and discuss how to make it a sustainable model for use in the future.

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The effort to provide bus passes for high school students is in support of a larger initiative called the Tacoma Whole Child Partnership, a community-driven effort to provide Tacoma Public Schools students with accessibility to out-of-school experiences like field trips, arts and culture. It is also aimed at reducing transportation barriers to students. 

The plan calls for phasing in transportation for more elementary schools in future years.

“By addressing this essential need for safe, reliable transportation we make it easier for young people to consider the many opportunities available through Tacoma Creates,” said Tacoma Mayor and Pierce Transit Board Chair Victoria Woodards. “As Tacoma evolves and grows, the way we come together as a community to support and empower our youth today will greatly factor in our join successes tomorrow.”  

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