BY NADIA BARNETT — The Hyattsville City Council is considering a request by Joe’s Movement Emporium to provide transportation for Hyattsville Elementary School students enrolled in their Mount Rainer after school program.
The students would be picked up from Hyattsville Elementary everyday after school and taken to Joe’s, according to a city memo. This service would be offered on a trial basis during the upcoming 2015-2016 school year, a city memo said.
Instead of using a Call-A-Bus, the city’s transportation for seniors and disabled residents, Director of Community Services Jake Rollow said, “Right now the city has a recreation van — it’s actually the one we’re looking to put out of service and purchase a new van to replace — so we would look to use that new van and temporarily that old van.”
Rollow said that the city has a Call-A-Bus back up driver, and that if this driver was uninterested in the position, there is the possibility of hiring a part-time employee to provide after school transportation to Joe’s students. According to city documents, Joe’s would pay $250 per week as compensation for the hiring the driver, gasoline and any impairment caused as a result of the transportation service.
Thomas Wright (Ward 3) inquired about the $10 transportation fee collected by Joe’s, but Rollow said was unsure about whether that charge will remain “because that’s really up to them.” He did say there is the chance that parents might have to pay more “in order to completely offset Joe’s cost to contract us.”
“We in Hyattsville have a large low income population. … Before we as a city commit to supporting the transportation costs of sending students’ of a certain income level to a program that they can pay for…that there is someway that Joe’s is making sure that low income students can also participate in that and low income families can also use the city services,” said Councilmember Patrick Paschall (Ward 3).
Rollow said Joe’s accepts a Maryland voucher program that allows low income students to participate at no cost to their families.
Joe’s has plans to reach out to Rosa Parks Elementary School and Edward M. Felegy Elementary School, a city memo said, and Councilmember Shani Warner (Ward 2) inquired about those schools and University Park Elementary School (UPES) as well.
Warner said the council was told there were 13 students at UPES that could potentially use the service on top of HES’ 11 students. “If we have a vehicle that carries 15 people, it’s hard to figure out logistically that would work if you have dismissals at roughly the same time.”
According to its website, Joe’s Movement Emporium (Joe’s) is currently the largest independent performing arts center in Prince George’s County, which aims to promote dance and movement by incorporating “world performance traditions.” One of their arts education programs is Club Joe’s, which is an after school program available to elementary and middle school children from 2-6pm.
The MOU is on tonight, August 3rd’s, council meeting agenda as an action item.