BY NADIA BARNETT — On Aug. 3, the Hyattsville City Council approved a request by Joe’s Movement Emporium to provide transportation from Hyattsville Elementary School (HES) to the dance studio’s after-school program in Mount Rainier.
At the time of the meeting, Joe’s had only requested the city provide transportation to HES students enrolled in the after-school program. However, the vote was preceded by discussion of expanding transportation to other schools that serve city residents. Director of Community Services Jake Rollow said Joe’s plans to reach out to Rosa Parks and Edward M. Felegy Elementary.
City Administrator Tracey Nicholson said, “They intend to pick up from all the schools. …[Joe’s] needed the relief from Hyattsville Elementary because that’s the school that had the waiting list and they couldn’t accommodate.”
“We would only participate … as it’s currently written with Hyattsville Elementary,” said Rollow. “Joe’s has another vehicle that they use — it’s actually Mount Rainer’s Call-A-Bus — that would also be doing pickups at the other schools that participate in their program, which I believe right now is University Park and Riverdale Elementary.”
“I have a problem if they can’t include the other schools because we have just as many problems with kids with nothing to do after school,” Councilmember Paula Perry (Ward 4) said. She abstained from the vote. “[Joe’s] need to start reaching out to our schools now and not wait to see if this pilot works.”
A city memo said Joe’s will offer tuition vouchers to low-income families and waive their transportation fees. Rollow said Joe’s has “a lot of trouble getting [Prince George’s County] to approve students for it.” Joe’s asked the city for assistance in advocating with the county to more effectively process tuition vouchers, according to a city memo.
“I do very much support this, knowing that this is the beginning of a program. … Right now, we know that there is a demand in Hyattsville Elementary School and we have a commitment to reach out to the other schools in our community,” said Councilmember Shani Warner (Ward 2).
“I’d like us to think along the lines of – either by semester, by year – we rotate through the schools,” Warner said. “[There should be] some sort of system in which any one particular year or semester we may prioritize one school over the other but that over time this would be a resource that would be shared among the various schools – elementary schools – that the City of Hyattsville has students attending,” she said.
The service is scheduled to begin this fall.